Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic: Argumentative Essay

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This case study aims to analyze Dell’s contribution towards addressing the crisis of ocean plastics which is a major pollutant in ocean bodies. Dell which is a privately owned company and a major technological service and products provider, started the Ocean Plastics Initiative after the challenge facing many oceans was brought to the attention of the company. This is also after United Nations announced its inclusion of the ocean crisis in its Sustainable Development Goals. Despite various hesitations at first from the vice president of global operations at Dell, the company has been able to team together and incorporate ocean plastic into its packaging routine. Besides the analysis of the problem Dell is trying to solve, the paper also discusses how this issue has solved Dells, supply chain. The impact of Dell’s initiative on the ocean crisis and its consortium is also included.

Upcycling in Ocean Plastics


Research indicates that with each coming year, around 8 million or more tons of plastics enter the ocean. Owing to that fact, there is a high chance that there could be more plastics than fish in the water bodies by 2050. After the intervention by United Nations, most companies and organizations have joined in to solve the ocean crisis. An example is Dell, which has proved that businesses can incorporate and make a contribution towards environmental conservation and solving challenges.

Summary of the case study

The case study is about Dell, a company that is aimed at diverting ocean waste through the Ocean Plastics Initiative. They intended to do this by incorporating ocean plastics into Dell’s packaging for products. This initiative was not only going to deliver meaningful cost savings over conventional sources of plastic but also divert waste from the oceans thus contributing towards making a difference in ocean health. As part of contributing towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Dell had pledged that they will curb the increase in ocean plastics ten times more by 2025 and thus had to deliver (Anupindi, Hoffman., 2019).

Dell is a well-known private company based in Texas that provided consumers, industry, and the government with different technology products and solutions. Due to increasing demand in multidimensional supply chains, the company shifted its focus towards large amounts of manufacturing (Nilakantan & Nutt, 2015). Owing to this fact, Dell has been in the lead when it comes to innovations with a positive environmental impact, especially in the packaging domain. Dell always used sustainable materials in packaging before eventually incorporating ocean plastics too.

Despite the fact that the Ocean’s Plastic Initiative that began in 2015 had made a major contribution to making a difference in the ocean crisis, it was clear that Dell needed support from other companies in order to fully attain their objectives. Incorporating ocean plastic into the company’s stream affected the company’s supply chain in many ways and the effort of various team members was necessary in order to ensure its success (Nilakantan & Nutt, 2015). Piyush Bhargava who is the vice president of global corporations at Dell reflects on all this and appreciates the effort the team had made so far despite the fact that he was hesitant to implement it at first. He however feels more strategies should be made in order to fulfill the commitment they had made to United Nations (Anupindi, Hoffman., 2019).

The Problem to be solved

Plastics are everywhere. They have been used in different ways to make lives easier. The major concern, however, is that the materials used in their production are nonbio degradable thus making them a major pollutant of the environment. The lack of efficient policies and adequate infrastructure has led to the accumulation of plastic waste in various areas with the marine and coastal environments being a major victim. This mismanaged plastic waste then sits in the ocean and is broken further into microplastics by sunlight and wave action.

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The accumulation of plastic materials in water bodies poses a major risk to marine life and has adverse effects. This happens through acting as a carrier for diseases and creating chemical exposure. After a study was made in 2015 about the increasing ocean plastics, United Nations came up with ‘Life below Water’ as one of its Sustainable Development Goals (Partin, 2018). This was in an attempt to find a solution for ocean plastics. Several companies including Dell have joined the UN in enhancing ocean health.

Through a partnership with the UN, the notion of incorporating ocean plastic into packaging in Dell arose and was brought to Oliver Campbell who was Dell’s director of worldwide packaging engineering who then forwarded the idea to Bargav. The idea was somehow rejected by Bargav at first as he tried to consider the costs that will be involved and how it might affect the company. After several persuasions, however, the Ocean Plastic Initiative was formed by Dell in an attempt to eradicate ocean plastic waste by incorporating it into the company’s packaging.

Effects on Dell’s supply chain

The Ocean Plastics Initiative without a doubt was bound to have tremendous effects on Dell’s supply chain. Besides reducing costs, the ocean plastics supply chain was new to Dell and many certainties arose. This is owing to the fact that Dell was now working with suppliers who were not familiar with the company and were in unfamiliar locations. Issues with operational and supply continuity concerns also rose (Heizer, Render, Griffin, 2017). There were variations when it came to collecting and processing of raw materials from suppliers due to various factors such as familiarity with the sourcing location, weather patterns, and several economic factors. The suppliers were also not well conversant with the collection system which affected the quality, type, and amount of plastic collected.

Other ways in which the use of ocean plastic affected Dell besides the operational concerns include the involvement of child labor during the picking and recycling of ocean plastics (Jambeck, et al., 2018). Not all companies were on Dell’s side as they implemented their strategies. The company was determined and led a collaborative effort with companies with similar interests with the aim of addressing the ocean plastics problem.

Impact of Dell’s Initiative on the problem of plastics in the oceans

Since 2015 when the initiative began, Dell has been able to incorporate recycled ocean plastics into its various products. The major impact Dell has made to solve the problem of plastics in the ocean is it has been able to curb plastics at the source in waterways and beaches before they reached the ocean (Anupindi, Hoffman., 2019). It then molds the ocean plastic into packaging trays which are shipped for final packaging. For example, Dell has been able to find a correct formula and was able to produce ocean-bound plastic packaging in 2017.

Dell’s Consortium Concept, Form, and Viability

Considering the fact that ocean plastics are a global crisis, Dell is not able to eradicate them alone and needs support from other companies. Thus, the decision to introduce the concept of a consortium and collaborate with other companies is important in commoditizing ocean plastic. This has helped in creating environmental and social benefits that Dell could not achieve by itself. A consortium is viable since it is able to not only create a demand for plastic oceans and also lower the costs of creating more products made of ocean plastics. For the consortium to be functional, a structure has to be formed with Dell as the leader at the start (Anupindi, Hoffman., 2019).

In conclusion, it is clear that Dell has made a huge attempting fulfilling the commitments it made to the United Nations. However, besides the fact that a consortium will be helpful in meeting their objectives, global support is necessary for solving the global crisis. Proper innovation and application of the supply chain will go a long way in solving the problem of ocean plastics. Bhargava is determined to come up with recommendations that he believes will help Dell to fulfill their commitments.


  1. Anupindi R., Hoffman A. (2019). Dell: Upcycling Ocean Plastics Through Supply Chain Innovation
  2. Heizer, J., Render, B., Griffin P. (2017). Operations Management: Sustainability and supply chain management. Toronto, Ontario: Pearson.
  3. Jambeck, J., Hardesty, B. D., Brooks, A. L., Friend, T., Teleki, K., Fabres, J., ... & Baleta, T. (2018). Challenges and emerging solutions to the land-based plastic waste issue in Africa. Marine Policy, 96, 256-263.
  4. Nilakantan, G., & Nutt, S. (2015). Reuse and upcycling of aerospace prepreg scrap and waste. Reinforced Plastics, 59(1), 44-51.
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