China Supply Chain Award: Dell Snags Green Trophy for Bamboo Use

We are happy to report this week that for the first time in five years, the nominees for the CHaINA Awards, a notable Chinese ceremony for supply chain innovation presented by a council of Asian supply chain professionals, were actually put to a vote.

Shanghai-based Global Supply Chain Council, which runs the awards, handled nominations with a group of Asia supply veterans. But then they opened the nominations to a vote of their peers, via an online survey of supply chain professionals. To everyone’s delight, apparently 2,000 Asia supply hands voted.

So this was actually somewhat of a legitimate measure of who is doing innovative things in Asian supply. Among electronics shippers, major players like {complink 1131|Cisco Systems Inc.} and {complink 1544|Dell Inc.} found themselves nominated. Cisco went home empty handed, but Dell won, taking home a trophy in the Green Supply Chain category “for its green bamboo supply chain.”

“Dell substituted fossil fuel based polymer packaging by bamboo,” reported the council. “Together with packaging supplier Unisource Global Solutions, the raw bamboo is sourced from a forest in Jiangxi Province and follows Forest Stewardship Council principals and criteria.”

Dell claims it has used 18.2 million pounds less packaging since making the switch in 2008, and that of the packaging it does use for shipping out of its China manufacturing hubs, it uses “57% green packaging,” such as the bamboo product. Those numbers couldn’t be independently verified, but apparently the voters were convinced, and liked it.

Like better known awards, such as the Oscars, to which CHaINA's backers compared their own party, nominations come from inside the industry, with a panel of judges deciding on nominations. This would suggest that the awards do actually seem to mean something, beyond the usual end-of-the-year back slapping. The awards are not sponsored, and a judgment by peers is always nice. This year, electronics firms were well represented.

Though less well known than a massive mover like Dell, Germany’s SupplyOn, a small, €20 million-a-year firm, won the Best Supply Chain IT Solution for China award for its “S.C.A.N Project,” a supply chain system SupplyOn built for Bosch China. “SupplyOn created a web based platform between Bosch and all suppliers to enable them to share purchasing information, delivery forecasts and overall to provide a complete transparency of the procurement transaction. Currently, 200 vendors are connected to Bosch China via SupplyOn,” said a statement announcing the award.

The CHaINA awards are now in their fifth year and have become a major event for Northeast Asia’s electronics shippers.

10 comments on “China Supply Chain Award: Dell Snags Green Trophy for Bamboo Use

  1. Ms. Daisy
    November 22, 2010

    Another step towards “GREEN” and use of natural materials to reduce polution. Its always nice to get recognized for effort. I hope the judges will in future have independent verification of the claim to make it more authentic and a beeter baseline for future reference. Congratulations to DELL!

  2. Marc Herman
    November 22, 2010

    Indeed, verifying these claims doesn't seem to be part of the announcement, and that would help legitimize this sort of thing.

  3. SP
    November 22, 2010

    Its interesting to know that they won because of bamboo usage. But its great that voting was allowed.

  4. Hardcore
    November 22, 2010

    If it is anything like the “approved wood” system that is supposed to ensure that Illegal wood does not enter the supply chain in China, then the 'pandas' in that area better watch out.

    Call me 'negative nancy', but I can foresee masses of  peasants wandering about the bamboo areas stripping the material for the few RMB that they will get from a middle man, who will then illegally feed the material to a processing plant, so that the boss can claim the difference between the cost of 'real' material and what he pays to the middle man for the illegal material.


    Jut how exactly do you 'tag' the source of a piece of bamboo?

  5. Marc Herman
    November 23, 2010

    Negs, yes yes and yes. I suspect that a Chinese award doesn't necessarily imply Chinese bamboo. But certainly, any resource has its issues. You've likely read the kerfuffle over bamboo floors, which comes from the same cycle of “wow!-miracle material!-oh but wait a minute- what about this or that? — you mean there's no silver bullet?” The important question here, IMHO, is whether what they're doing now replaces an older and less regulated practice with a newer and more thoughtfully designed one. I would suspect that Dell understands perfectly well their costs and benefits, and probably likes getting awards, but they like making money even more. Which suggests to me either that you're right, and they're not telling the whole story, or the award committee is right, and they really have figured out how to get a better profit margin out of a cleaner practice.

    Thanks as ever for commenting.

  6. bolaji ojo
    November 23, 2010

    Hardcore, Pandas should watch out anyway — or, better still, man should watch out for Pandas — and we are not talking here about the ones in the zoo. Just this week, there was a report that Siberian tigers could be extinct in 10 years if we fail to protect their habitat. Our activities do have impact on our environment and the ecosystem.

    As far as the whole supply chain is concerned, though, companies have a vested interest in being “green” or being seen to be “green.” Dell isn't using bamboo simply because it wants to be nice, it must be part of a bigger plan. This process involves a lot of delicate balancing between creating shareholder value (profit and higher stock price) and establishing high enough goodwill in the marketplace.

    For now, most of the major OEMs seem to have decided it's all right to spend a few extra dollars just to not have environmentalists and animal activitists picketing their workplace. That's called doing good business while doing good by people. Convoluted statement? Yes, the whole green thing is that complex!

  7. elctrnx_lyf
    November 24, 2010

    Leaving the Dell and Bamboo aside I'm impressed by the aplication developed by the SupplyOn to manage all the supplier information online. This is one example where few small firms can make a huge difference and come out with some thing break through. But anyway the requirements and challenges may be different for the OEM's, so this application may need to be customised for different OEM's requirements.

  8. Marc Herman
    November 24, 2010

    Yeah, I had the same reaction: a large company, working on a large scale, customizing something for a region or a client isn't terribly surprising. Customization is a pretty obvious service to sell. But a smaller company doing that –not just cleverly, but in a sector that will demand a lot of effort to fit into different contexts — is nice to see recognized. The usual argument is that small is nice but can't scale very well. This seems like a refute to that. 

    Thanks for weighing in.

  9. saranyatil
    November 28, 2010

    “GREEN” “GREEN”  The world is moving towards this one Dell has made by giving it a right start they have set a trend everyone may follow it soon. its amazing to know that bamboo is being used for packaging this idea should be taken forward in differnt ways. when it comes to awards i think it was really a great approach to allow voting procedures.

  10. eemom
    November 28, 2010

    Using Bamboo must have provided Dell some sort of an advantage.  While going “green” is the right thing to do, I don't think Dell would switch to Bamboo if it greatly increased its packaging costs.  Dell competes in a cut through market where every dollar counts, I bet they are realizing some advantage, not to mention press, from the switch.

    What we don't know, however, is if this bamboo continues to be cut down, what effect will that have on the ecosystem?  Are we solving one problem to simply create another?


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