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戴尔希望怎样运送你的下一台服务器?用“蘑菇”运输

Scott Woolley 2011年04月11日

一种菌类环保型材料是否终将取代泡沫塑料包装?你别不信,它确有可能。

    假如你的工作是运送250磅,价值25,000美元的计算机服务器,你无疑只会使用最安全的材料作为包装盒进行包装。然而,当戴尔(Dell)运送4台PowerEdge R710服务器时,一种采用“蘑菇”制作的新型包装很快就将投入使用。

    这一创意听起来有些匪夷所思,但也确实有效。戴尔首先造出一个模子,然后注入棉籽皮——轧棉机工作留下来的一种废料。接着,注射能吸收棉中糖分和碳水化合物的蘑菇菌柱;待其根部结构成长后,表面变硬而填满模子。

    “我们不会依赖碳或核助能的燃料进行包装开发,”戴尔公司采购包装总监奥利弗•坎贝尔表示,“包装完全是自供能。”

    坎贝尔展示的这种包装样品看上去和标准的泡沫塑料或硬纸板包装拥有差不多相同的重量和耐用性。戴尔公司日前在《财富》杂志(Fortune)的头脑风暴绿色会议上展示了这一菌类基材的创新成果。

    此前,戴尔曾身体力行,大力倡导在消费品包装中使用更多竹子。目前,这种植物材料已在大部分戴尔零售笔记本电脑运输中广泛应用(竹子更适用于重量较轻的产品包装,而蘑菇更适用于较重的物品)。现在,在坎贝尔家后院的混合机里,我们可以找到使用蘑菇基材和竹子基材制作的两种包装样品。

    戴尔刚刚启动一项实验计划,旨在全面测试这种蘑菇基材制作的材料。坎贝尔表示,与其他不够环保的替代品相比,他相信戴尔能够使这种新型包装更具成本竞争力。不过要证明这一点的确是个不小的挑战,正如坎贝尔坦言:“绿色环保的同时也须确保经济发展的可持续性。”

    If your job was to ship 250 pounds and $25,000 dollars worth of computer servers, you'd no doubt pack them in a box using only the safest materials. And yet when Dell (DELL) ships four of its PowerEdge R710 servers it will soon offer a new packaging made of...mushrooms.

    The idea seems off-the-wall, but it also seems to work. Dell first builds a mold, then fills it with cotton husks, a waste product left over from cotton gins. Next it injects mushroom spawn, which eats the sugars and carbohydrates in the cotton. As its root structure grows it hardens to fill the mold.

    "We're not reliant on carbon- or nuclear-based fuels to grow this packaging," says Oliver Campbell, Dell's director of procurement packaging. "It's self-energizing."

    An example of the packaging Campbell showed off seemed to have roughly the same weight and durability as standard styrofoam or cardboard packaging. The company unveiled the fungus-based innovation today at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference.

    Previously Dell has made a big push to use more bamboo in consumer packaging, and that plant is now used in most of the consumer laptops that Dell ships. (Bamboo works better on lower-weight products; the mushrooms are better for heavier goods.) Campbell now has sample of both the mushroom- and bamboo-based packaging in his backyard composter.

    Dell is just starting a pilot program to fully test the mushroom-based material. Campbell says that he believes Dell can make the new packaging cost competitive with its less green alternatives. Proving that's true will be the real trick, as Campbell freely admits: "Green has to be economically sustainable."

 

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