HP Reinvents for a Sustainable Future

Focus Is On Integrating Sustainability and Business Strategy



Priya Gohil

As a global company operating in over 120 countries, HP takes its social and environmental responsibilities very seriously. In fact, HP cites sustainability and the circular economy as being the twin cornerstones that drive innovation throughout its global operations and services. Ahead of the second publication of HP’s Living Progress Report, we take a look at what has been achieved to date, as outlined at a recent HP Sustainability briefing.

“HP is committed to sustainability, as it allows HP to create opportunities through the power of technology,” explains HP EMEA Sustainability Manager Madeleine Bergrahm. “Plus, ‘doing well by doing good’ is a phrase that HP’s founders used, so we want our actions and investments in sustainability to strengthen the communities where we work.”

Full Lifecycle Approach
According to HP, four of its products come on the market every second, so HP recognizes there’s a real need for it to have good management systems in place for all phases of a product’s life. This is what the company terms the ‘full lifecycle approach’, and it has different phases stretching from Design for Environment (DfE) to Manufacturing, Use and Re-use and finally, Recycle, which closes/begins the cycle again.

HP kick started its DfE program in 1992, with a clear aim to control and monitor the substances and materials used in its products and reduce its carbon and water footprints through a per-product approach, while achieving growth. Its focus on producing more energy-efficient products that help customers save energy has led to a string of technologies such as HP’s PageWide Technology. The company claims this technology helps their OfficeJet Pro X and Enterprise printers use up to 84% less energy on average during operation compared to other HP laser printers, and up to 25% less power overall compared to competitors in its class. Indeed, BLI testing has shown that inkjet technology, such as that used in HP’s OfficeJet series has been proven to use significantly less energy than laser technology.

It’s not just hardware under the DfE spotlight; HP’s cartridges, according to Bergrahm, are designed under an original ink value proposition of reliability, performance, affordability and responsibility. Independent research commissioned by HP showed that customers are likely to benefit from using original HP ink cartridges over third-party refilled or remanufactured aftermarket cartridges available in Germany and EMEA/Russia, with more pages printed, and few or no cartridge failures. Moreover, customers sensitive to reducing their environmental impact will take heed that HP offers cartridge recycling in 35 countries in EMEA through its Planet Partners program. Another third-party study revealed that one in four ink cartridges collected by remanufacturers in Western Europe were usable and of these, 15% ended up in landfills on account of the remanufacturer not having a recycling program in place.

The Circular Economy
Brigitte Lahm, Circular Economy Manager EMEA for HP went on to present the principles of the ‘Circular Economy’, which she described as being ‘a system of restoration by intention, starting with the design of products and services, which tries to eliminate waste as much as possible.’ Lahm cites 3D printing with Multi Jet Fusion technology, PageWide Web Presses and other new technologies as enablers for a circular economy, and allow HP to design for less waste, use fewer, more sustainable materials, and create more degradable and modular products. From a sustainability perspective, 3D printing enables customers to print spare parts onsite in real time, print in small or large quantities according to need, and even reduce inventory and warehouse space. As Lahm explains, ‘over 30% of books produced by the US book publishing market are left unread sitting on shelves, which is a significant amount of waste and initial outlay on the part of publishers. Print on demand technology, as offered by PageWide Web presses and Indigo presses becomes key for reducing waste and costs.”

One further example of HP’s work in this area lies with its success in increasing the recycled plastic content of its ink cartridges. The closed-loop process involves producing inkjet cartridges from material recycled by customers such as PET drinking water bottles familiar to everyone, and apparel hangers made of polypropylene. HP claims there is now recycled plastic in more than 75% of HP inkjet cartridges shipped for commercial sale. Lahm comments, ‘Significant progress has been made in terms of less waste. In the past five years, on average HP upcycled 1 million water bottles per day. Since 2005, we have produced more than 2 billion cartridges using over 3 billion PET water bottles and over 40 million apparel hangers in the process.”

Clearly, HP is not just paying lip service to environmental concerns, and its attempts to integrate sustainability with its business strategy should be applauded. For further insight, why not have your own in-depth look at BLI’s environmental document library, which contains a copy of HP’s current Living Progress report and much more.