How HP uses recycled cooking oil to cook up a green laptop in its push for sustainability
Note: This feature was first published on 11 August 2023.
Can you imagine your next PC being partly made from recycled coffee grounds or cooking oil? Since 2019, HP has used more than a billion pounds of recycled materials like those previously mentioned during the manufacturing of its products and packaging, in its drive towards its carbon neutrality goals.
This was shared by HP at its recent “HP Future Ready – Better Together 2023” event held in Tokyo, Japan. During the event, the company gave some insights into their Future Ready strategy for driving sustainable long-term growth for partners and delivering lifetime customer value. Centred around customers, it involves several initiatives revolving around three pillars: Portfolio, Operations, and Customer and Partners while building on the opportunities offered by high-growth segments including gaming, hybrid work, workforce services, security, and sustainability.
Vinay Awasthi, Managing Director for Greater Asia, said during the event:
We are constantly innovating to offer more ease, more convenience, and more integration. HP is already offering solutions to help navigate increasingly complex hybrid realities.
HP’s new growth strategy signifies a dedicated effort towards innovative and more importantly, sustainable technology solutions that are responsive to the needs and challenges of the customers in Asia's evolving business landscape. As the region continues to embrace digital innovation, cybersecurity, and new work arrangements, HP aims to continue delivering innovation, and value, and meeting the needs of its customers.
The opportunity offered by hybrid work
Sustainability was a key point touched on by almost every HP spokesperson during the event with HP having set itself the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable and just technology company by 2030.
According to Dave Shull, President, Workforce Solutions at HP who spoke during the opening keynotes, the rise in hybrid work has had an impact on HP’s sustainability efforts with people needing to equip both their office and home with the tools to communicate and collaborate efficiently.
Hybrid work looks to be around for a long time with 90% of the workforce in Asia Pacific (APAC) preferring to work remotely or hybrid, according to a recent report by PwC.
HP’s goal here is to make every experience of hybrid work equitable with Shull explaining that this means having the ability to move between different workspaces seamlessly and have the experience remain equitable and as high performance as you want.
This means having the equipment you need to be productive at both locations but having them be connected and most importantly secure. Even the humble household printer is an endpoint that needs to be secured, Shull added.
He also spoke of how the world is changing and how the demand for sustainability goes beyond just technology and business. With countries in Asia having an ageing population, they are more attuned to sustainability challenges than the US with European counterparts according to business studies with 90% of consumers in Asia saying that they will pay more for a safe product.
Shull said with the increasing awareness of sustainability amongst consumers, there was an increasing onus on tech companies to embrace sustainability at the core of all they do, whether from production to packaging, to their supply chain.
Building for a sustainable future
According to Schull, HP set the industry's most comprehensive and aggressive targets for how the company would commit to its sustainability ways. And the company remained committed to it despite the current challenging economic conditions.
Lynn Loh, Global Head of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)Reporting at HP, said during a panel discussion that despite the world going through a period of negative economic conditions and difficult times, she has only seen companies and Governments remain committed to the agreements signed during the Paris Accords, with regulators putting in place policies and rules that would likely make companies liable to do more in this space.
As for HP itself, to achieve its sustainability goals, HP has identified three key pillars around which its “Sustainable Impact” goals will revolve. According to Vinay, as laid out in HP’s 2022 Sustainability Impact Report these break down into:
Climate Action: Taking urgent and decisive action to achieve net zero carbon emissions across the company’s entire value chain, to give back more to forests than it takes, and innovate HP’s products and services for a more circular economy. HP has launched 300+ products with ocean-bound plastics, is becoming forest positive in printing, and aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.Under Climate Action, nearly two million trees were planted with partners like the Arbor Day Foundation, WWF, and Conservation International. HP more than doubled the area of forest under responsible management year over year, to a total of 33,460 hectares.Human Rights: Building a culture of equality and empowerment within HP and beyond, where diversity is sought out and celebrated, and where universal human rights are understood and respected.Human Rights action has seen US$423 million spent in the United States on small businesses, US$87 million on minority-owned businesses, and US$115 million on women-owned businesses. 46.4% of HP’s hires in the United States were from racial/ethnic minorities, and overall, 67% of its U.S. hires were from underrepresented groups, including women, racial/ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and military veterans.Digital Equity: Accelerating equitable access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity for those who are traditionally excluded so they can participate and thrive in a digital economy and bridge the digital divide.Digital Equity programs saw more than 7.4 million students and teachers equipped with technology solutions in India, Nigeria, and the United States through HP’s partnership with Girl Rising. HP also accelerated digital equity for more than 21 million people on a path to 150 million by 2030.
And these numbers are all tracked.
“We know for sure for ESG reporting, we have an internal audit team that verifies every data point that is put out so that we ensure that that that data point is substantiated,” Loh said.
Developing products for the circular economy
Sustainability means more than just introducing programs and hoping that they work. If you’re a tech company, it needs to be reflected in the products and services you produce as well, Shull said.
In 2022, HP spent US$1.6 billion on ongoing product development to create products that serve the circular economy. This is where the plastics, metals, and other durable materials involved in production are reused, repaired, refurbished, and recycled for as long as possible.
According to Loh, in 2020 to 60% of HP’s total revenue is considered to be sustainable and arising from the sale of sustainable or more environmentally responsible products.
For example, there is the HP 14-inch Eco Edition, a 13th Generation Intel laptop made with up to 25% recycled post-consumer materials, and recycled metals, and even has a back cover made with used cooking oil and water-based paints for the keyboard. It has recycled aluminium in the front cover, and post-consumer recycled plastics in its keycaps and keyboard deck.
There is also the new HP 27-inch all-in-one PCor AIOwhich uses composite recycled materials like recycled coffee grounds as a design feature in the device's finish. More than 40% of this all-in-oneenclosure contains post-consumer recycled plastics, 75% recycled aluminium is used on the arm stand, and 100% reclaimed polyester is used on the stand base. And it’s not just the device that is green. The 100% sustainably sourced and recyclable box packaging has been reduced in size by 62%, which allows up to 66% more units per pallet, reducing the CO2 footprint.
HP Colour LaserJet Managed MFP E877 Series printers are EPEAT Gold registered and ENERGY STAR certified and consume 17% less energy than their predecessor. They are made using over 16% recycled plastic content and use supplies that contain about 60% recycled plastic content.
More than a billion HP print cartridges have been returned to the HP Planet Partners recycling program as of 31 December 2022.
In 2022, HP used 32,200 tonnes of post-consumer recycled content plastic in HP products and reached 40% circularity, by weight, for products and packaging.
Loh added that HP has been recycling since the 1980s and gained much experience since then. “The difference now is that we are trying to do things at scale because we want to incorporate more recycled content and that means we need to collect more of that into our system.”
Sustainability across the supply chain
According to Loh, HP tracks large tenders from customers where one requirement is sustainability and in 2022, some US$3.5 billion of new sales had some form of association with sustainability.
But it’s not just in its products that HP is walking the green talk. It is also making sure that its partners do as well.
Since 2002, HP has been running and auditing its Supplier Code of Conduct which requires suppliers to develop appropriate policies, procedures, and associated documentation to adhere to HP’s requirements and any applicable laws and regulations, including those prohibiting forced labour and human trafficking. Furthermore, these suppliers must pass on the requirements to their next-tier suppliers and monitor compliance.
For example, HP requires that all workers in HP’s supply chain receive fair treatment, freely chosen employment, and safe working conditions. Next, to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, HP collaborates with suppliers to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water use, waste, and other environmental impacts.
This is measured by a Sustainability scorecard that in 2022 provided suppliers with a score that encompasses audit performance (60% of total score), environmental reporting (13%), conflict minerals disclosure (6%), and other social and environmental topics (21%).
Suppliers discuss their scorecard with HP as part of regular business performance evaluations that determine ongoing business. Suppliers with strong sustainability performance improve their opportunities for new or expanded business. Suppliers with poor sustainability performance risk a reduction in the business they are awarded.
HP also has partner training programs that ensure quality control in the sustainability areas. In 2021, it worked with at least 27 suppliers representing 60% of HP’s production spend to set science-based emissions reduction targets, increase their use of renewable energy, and improve the deployment of energy management and efficiency.
HP continues to invest in enhancements for HP Amplify, a first-of-its-kind global channel partner program, aimed at helping partners drive greater agility, simplification, growth, and collaboration. The enhanced program is designed to provide partners with the essential digital services they need to empower their workforce, fuel growth opportunities and success in the diverse, ever-evolving landscape in Asia.
For customers, HP introduced programs like HP Renew. This takes old HP-made devices like printers, PCs, and laptops and recycles them where possible, and safely disposes of them, where not. This makes it easier for the customer to embrace going green without too much inconvenience.
Where we want to all end up
HP isn’t the only tech company that has committed to green initiatives or carbon neutrality.
Apple, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Microsoft have all pledged to some degree to reach carbon neutrality or net zero emissions by certain dates. But HP’s pledge of net zero carbon emissions by 2040 sets the benchmark. Loh called this one of the most comprehensive climate goals in tech.
Awasthi ended by saying that technology has a lot of potential to really mitigate climate change with solutions already being offered. And HP is ready to work with partners, customers, and suppliers to move towards a sustainable future that is truly “Better Together”, he concluded.
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