Wednesday, April 20, 2011

HP's Sustainable Innovation Serves the Planet and Profits

Hewlett-Packard (HP) proves that sustainability efforts can be a win-win proposition that is good for the environment and also good for the bottom line. HP has a long history of ‘doing the right thing’ that dates back to 1957. The company is the largest technology company in the world and it wholly integrates environmental considerations into its business strategy. The company sees sustainability as an integral part of the way business is conducted.

As reported in The Green Economy Post, HP is focused on minimizing environmental impacts and promoting the welfare and safety of employees and customers. For decades HP has worked to manage its environmental impact by adopting environmentally responsible practices in product development, operations and supply chain.

Frances Edmonds, the Director of Environmental Programs for HP Canada outlined how HP’s environmental commitment has led to greater profitability. She said, to be sustainable companies must have "a vision to reduce waste coupled with encouragement for employees to find innovative solutions for the uncertain journey that lies ahead."

Accounting for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, the ICT sector (information and communication technology) has a very heavy footprint. According to Edmonds the information technology sector can reduce its own footprint and offer solutions to the world’s carbon problem. Edmonds was quick to include the fact that HP is firmly focused on playing a key role in finding and implementing these solutions.

Edmonds reviewed some simple yet innovative sustainable solutions including restricting an employee’s ability to book travel to other offices teleconferencing technology is available. HP has also shown leadership in responsible recycling of old technology and print supplies through its Planet Partners program which is active in over 50 countries.

HP's inkjet recycling program is a good illustration of the company's sustainable initiatives. The program was introduced in 2005, it achieved resource reduction through recycling that saves HP money and builds a stronger relationship with valuable supply chain partners like Staples.

HP's life cycle analysis (LCA) of the recycled inkjet cartridges prove the benefits of the company's recycling efforts. Between 2005 and 2010 recycling reduced the carbon footprint of the inkjet cartridges by 22 percent, cut fossil fuel use in half and reduced water use by 69 percent. Despite these impressive results, HP continues to improve. Carbon reductions are now 33 percent better than in 2005, fossil fuel use has been cut by 62 percent and the water savings have increased to 89 percent.

Edmonds highlighted HP’s management structure which encourages innovation and supports ‘doing the right thing.’ She also mentioned the company's reliance on Integrated principles of Extended Producer Responsibility which imply that HP accepts external responsibility for their products. Finally she stressed the importance of employee engagement programs that both explain issues and support them as they innovate.

HP is committed to sustainability because it knows that this approach results in better products, while increasing profits and decreasing environmental impact. For HP sustainability is a powerful competitive advantage.

To see Helwett Packard's document Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage, click here.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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