A Simpler Approach to Packaging Receives 2013 Green Award

| Josh Henretig

greenawards2013At Microsoft our supply chain is a sustainability imperative. In 2013, we began to require our suppliers to provide reports on their adherence to the requirements listed in the Microsoft Vendor Code of Conduct in an effort to drive sustainability improvements in our supply chain. Today, our supply chain initiatives play a key role in our commitment to environmental sustainability. That is why we’re proud to announce that our Microsoft Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) Supply Chain team was recently honored with the 2013 Green Supply Chain Award in Ireland for the work it has done to further green our supply chain by reducing excessive, unnecessary packing within the OEM Distribution and Reseller (ODR) Channel.

Let’s consider the significance of developing a packaging simplification initiative in Microsoft’s OEM supply chain: Microsoft OEM works with system builders to pre-install Microsoft software, like Windows and Office, on computers that are sold to organizations and consumers. The opportunity for environmental savings is significant, because each device comes with a plastic case to protect the disc, an instructions manual, and other printed components. These materials are not always properly recycled and have sizable emissions associated with their manufacturing. With the launch of Windows 8, the OEM Supply Chain team saw an opportunity to modify the software’s packaging to decrease the impact it has on the environment.

In the new software package, the plastic DVD case was replaced with a recyclable paperboard sleeve, four printed components—including a 28-page color manual—were removed, and the entire package was made 50 percent lighter and 50 percent slimmer. These changes have allowed for four less manufacturing touches per unit. The total impact of these changes includes:

  • Reduced embodied CO2 emissions in materials and processing by over 660 tons
  • 200 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled
  • 11.5 million plastic DVD cases no longer required, which equates to saving 2,100 barrels of oil
  • 46 million printed components removed from the supply chain ecosystem

These environmental savings are significant in themselves, but the OEM Supply Chain team took the packaging initiative one step further by giving system builders with digital capabilities the ability to remove physical media from the supply chain by automating their installations. Providing system builders with this option has led to an estimated savings of over 52,000 discs and 104,000 printed pages.

Microsoft is committed to working with its partners to continuously develop initiatives that allow for a green supply chain from supplier to customer. That’s why the OEM team is currently looking at simplifying the packaging for legacy Microsoft products and promoting automated installation offerings. We’re excited to expand this supply chain initiative and further our sustainability commitments.

Visit our OEM Partner Center to learn more about Microsoft’s OEM products and solutions, and follow us on Twitter (@Microsoft_Green) for more sustainability news.

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