HP harvests waste straw to reduce packaging footprint in supply chain

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has unveiled its latest packaging innovation - waste straw - which is not only resulting in significant water and energy savings, but providing an extra source of income for Chinese farmers.

HP has struck a deal with YFY Jupiter, a global packaging firm who is working with farms in China to utilise leftover straw from cereal crop harvests. This straw, which previously would have been burnt to clear fields for the next harvest, is now is being used to create materials such as corrugated cardboard and molded pulp packaging.

HP is the first company to market with this packaging solution, demonstrating it can improve supply chain footprint by reducing production costs and improving logistics.

Since straw is a rapidly renewable crop, this solution decreases the demand for wood-based fibre, reducing the harvesting of trees. It also reduces shipping costs being lighter than wood-based moulded pulp and the clean pulping process itself emits 25% less CO2 emissions than conventional wood fibre.

According to Linda Chau, director of packaging & media for HP Central Direct Procurement & Services, the process used to create this packaging uses up to 40% less energy and 90% less water than traditional methods.

Writing in a blog for HP, she said: “Previously, there was no economic use for the straw that remained after farmers harvested their cereal crops. Nearly 90% of the remaining stalks were simply burned to clear fields for the next harvest.”

She added that the initiative is helping the local Chinese economy – so far it has created 383 new jobs at YFY Jupiter’s China facility. YFY Jupiter estimates it will be able to assist 440,000 farm families and create a total of 1,915 new jobs when the facility is running at full capacity.

Last year HP also reduced packaging for its consumer and commercial notebooks, saving $10m and lowering CO2e emissions by 11,000 metric tonnes.

This latest development builds on the company’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 (compared with 2010 levels) for its first-tier manufacturing and product transportation supply chain partners.

Maxine Perella

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