Ecovative Design’s mushroom-based foam material certainly is a hit! Yesterday, we reported that Ford teamed up with the company to make compostable car parts, and today we learned that Dell has announced that they will begin shipping their servers using the eco-friendly fungi foam. According to company officials, Dell is the first technology company to use Ecovative’s material for shipping.

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In a blog post, Dell’s Procurement Director Oliver Campbell said that the company extensively tested the material in labs to ensure that it provided the same safety to their products as traditional foam. “It passed like a champ,” writes Campbell. The use of green packaging materials is part of Dell’s larger plan for a more sustainable shipping strategy. The company already uses a Multipack packaging configuration that reduces the amount of packaging needed. The first pilot shipments with Ecovative’s product will be of the PowerEdge R710 server.

“The combination of Multipack and mushroom cushioning make for a super green solution,” says Campbell. “And best of all, the organic based mushroom cushions are easily composted after use.”

Ecovative makes its packaging by placing organic waste like cotton hulls or wood fiber in a mold, which is then inoculated with mushroom spores. The mushrooms digest the waste and take the shape of the mold, meaning that the carbohydrates in the waste provide all of the energy needed to make the material. The packaging for Dell grows in five to ten days.

Mushrooms are not the first green packaging material that Dell has implemented. In 2009, the company began using bamboo to cushion electronics, and now Dell uses bamboo to ship many of its Inspiron consumer laptops, Latitude laptops for business customers, the Streak tablet, and the Venue Pro smartphone. Campbell says that the mushroom cushioning is more suited for heavier products like servers.

By the end of next year, Dell plans to cut out 20 million pounds of packaging materials from its shipments. The company also plans to increase the sustainable content in cushioning and corrugated packaging to 40 percent, ensuring that at least 75 percent of all packaging components are curbside recyclable.

+ Dell

Via Green Biz