Dell: Upcycling Ocean Plastics Through Supply Chain Innovation
This case focuses on Dell's efforts to develop an open-source, scalable, and cost-effective supply chain capable of delivering ocean plastics waste to its production facilities, and potentially to those of partnering companies through a consortium. Piyush Bhargava, vice president of global operations at Dell and leader of Dell's Ocean Plastics Initiative, must deliver a strategic plan for how to proceed with the initiative but has three primary challenges: (1) how to deliver "additionality", (2) how to operationalize an ocean plastics supply chain at scale, and (3) how Dell should approach developing a consortium to ensure meaningful demand for the material. The case presents scientific information on the causes, scale, and impact of the ocean plastics problem and provides background on Dell's involvement in other sustainable packaging initiatives. Students will learn why Dell chose this cause and how it came to be a leading initiative within the company. The case is based on a 2017 Tauber Institute for Global Operations (University of Michigan) summer internship project.