HP to cut plastic packaging use by 75% by 2025

Printing and electronics giant HP has committed to using 75% fewer pieces of single-use plastic packaging in 2025 than it did in 2018, as it revealed that its sustainable products and services generated more than $1.6bn (£1.27bn) in sales last year.

HP to cut plastic packaging use by 75% by 2025

The new goal builds on HP's updated recycled plastic ambition

The new pledge comes after HP removed plastic power cord ties and document bags from its packaging portfolio in 2019 and unveiled an ambition of sourcing 30% recycled content for plastic packaging used for Personal Systems and Print Hardware products by 2025.

In order to meet the new plastic-free commitment, HP will remove plastic-based foam cushions from the packaging used to house its computers and printers, replacing them with pulp-based, 100% recycled and recyclable alternatives. Plastic foam is classed as hard-to-recycle and is not collected for kerbside recycling in most locations. The phase-out has already begun, with 933 tonnes of foam having been removed from Personal Systems products and a further 95 tonnes removed from Printing products.

Further changes to packaging formats will be announced in the coming months and years. HP is notably exploring glassine paper to replace the typical protective bag used to house printers and is investing in 3D printing technologies which enable users to reuse all surplus powder.

As for recycled plastics, HP sourced more than 25,000 tonnes of post-consumer-recycled plastics for its packaging in 2019 – equivalent to 9% of its total annual plastics use for packaging. Of this material, 170 pounds was certified as ocean-bound. HP uses ocean-bound plastics in its printer ink cartridges and in selected notebook, display, mobile workstation and enterprise Chromebook lines.

Broader Sustainable Impact

The new pledge and progress update were made public today, as part of HP’s annual sustainable impact report for 2019.

As with last year’s edition, the report details how sustainability is driving profitability for HP, stating that sustainability proved a key factor in $1.6bn (£1.27bn) of sales. This is equivalent to a 69% year-on-year increase from 2018’s $700m (£560m) figure. Other businesses publicly reporting on the connection between their sustainability provisions include Unilever and Ikea.

The report also documents progress towards HP’s ambitions to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 60% and to source 100% renewable electricity for global operations, both deadlined at 2025. On the latter, HP is on track, having sourced 43% of its electricity renewably in 2019. On the former, the company’s absolute emissions were up 5% year-on-year but ultimately down by 44% across Scopes 1 and 2 against a 2015 baseline.

Aside from environmental issues, the report tracks HP’s pledges and progress on issues relating to employees and communities.

It reveals that HP provided 6.3 million personal computers to schools worldwide in 2019 and, when schools began closing due to Covid-19, the firm partnered with organisations like TIME for Kids, Nasa and Britannica to bring educational resources to consumers in the home. HP estimates that it has reached more than 28 million students since 2015 and is striving to assist a further 72 million in the next five years.

It additionally discloses diversity figures for HP’s own workforce. 42% of the firm’s board of directors are women and 58% are from minority backgrounds, the report states, while 40% of all hires in the US in 2019 were from minority backgrounds. While hailing this progress, HP admitted that it “must do better” on hiring and promoting Black staff, particularly in light of the growing Black Lives Matter movement. It has set a goal to double the proportion of Black employees on the executive board within five years and re-affirmed its commitment to CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion.

“The HP culture has long been built on the belief that how we do things is just as important as what we do,” HP’s president and chief executive Enrique Lores said.

“Recent events have laid bare the systemic racism and deep inequalities that remain a stain on society, and it’s imperative for all companies to act with urgency on all fronts. It’s especially important for companies to hold themselves accountable and publicly report their progress.”

Sarah George

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