” It’s not enough just to be compliant”

In a new feature, Hewlett Packard's environmental manager Bruno Zago and WEEE programme manager Kirsty McIntyre act as a mouthpiece for the manufacturing industry, and reveal how their firm is leading the way. Interviews by Tom Idle


  • UK and Ireland Environmental management
  • Hewlett Packard

Customers are buying into corporate social responsibility.

Over the last few years, more and more customers are talking about environmental responsibility and sustainability. When I started two years ago, a lot of the questions were just about our environmental impact and energy use. But we’re now seeing a lot of the tenders focusing more on sustainability rather than just the environment.

It’s all about philanthropy.

The founders of HP were philanthropically minded. Those values are still present today. Our employees donated more than £500M to the Hurricane Katrina fund, and then the company added £500M.

Closer to home, £100,000 was donated to the Red Cross after the London bombings.

The UK is a leading country in looking at energy efficiency.
Whether we’re one of the leaders among that, is a different issue.

My role is about supporting the sales force.

Most of my time is spent talking to customers. The tenders that come through all have environmental questions. My role is to respond to these. A lot of customers want to talk about corporate social responsibility. So it’s about supporting the sales force.

Dinner parties are a lot more interesting these days.

Before I took this role 18 months ago, I worked for HP in sales. At dinner parties, when people found out what I did, they’d go: ‘Oh, I suppose you sell printers and things.’ Now when I say I’m the environmental manager, a whole wide world opens up to you. People talk about WEEE and ask things like: ‘Why don’t they collect plastic bottles?’ and: ‘What’s this about microchips on my dustbin?’

It’s all about designing for life.

We have product stewards who are responsible for the design for the environment, which is something we talk a lot about. Basically, a designer will come up with a concept for a new product and an environmental product steward will work with them looking at things like the materials being used.When it comes to the environmental side of things, there are probably around 300 staff worldwide.

HP employs 150,000 people and turns over £44B.
We are expected to be number one in the IT industry this year, overtaking IBM.

Our customers are very interested in our Far East activities.

We are a £44B company, but our supply chain is £27B. Roughly £5B is spent in the Americas, about £1.5B in Europe. And the rest is in the Far East. And that’s clearly why our customers are interested in what we are doing around labour.

Video conferencing could be the future.

We’ve developed something called the Halo suite, which is a virtualisation video conferencing facility.

The idea is to minimise the amount of business travel taking place. It is expensive but, in terms of payback, you are looking at between six and 12 months, which is fairly short if you factor in executive’s time, the air miles and the carbon footprint.

Consumers need to change their procurement mindset.

We do everything the right way, as best we can and as responsibly as possible – and yet our commercial customers still come back and say, ‘it’s price’.

We need to drive people to think about the whole-life costs of ownership of products.

We have a responsibility.

As a big company, I feel that there is a responsibility to behave in the right way in the world. We employ an awful lot of people and we have a massive impact. With that does come a level of responsibility.

Legislation needs harmonising across the world.

I’d like to see any new piece of legislation adopted worldwide, so it’s the same everywhere.

There’s nothing more difficult for us as a global company producing a product for a global market only to find that California has implemented one piece of legislation, Europe has implemented something else and we have to build two different products for two different markets. It’s key that there’s harmonisation.


  • WEEE programme manager
  • Hewlett Packard

HP has been doing take-back and recycling for more than 20 years.

Although the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive is a bit of a jolt to the system, it’s not a shock to the system. We’ve seen it coming, obviously and our systems in most cases just need a bit of tweaking to fall into line.

We play a key role in forming the company’s global policies.

There’s no individual environmental policy for the UK operation of HP. All policies are global corporate policies.

Obviously, South Africa is going to have a different set of cultural values and issues from the UK, and there are different priorities placed on programmes. But basically the policies and the programmes are the same.

And we all contribute in the formation of those policies. It feels quite inclusive and doesn’t feel like we’re on the tail end being told what to do.

Active disassembly? It’s nothing new to us.

We call it design for recycling. We look at design for recycling, materials innovation and energy efficiency.

Within those three divisions, we have a supplier management system through which we manage our suppliers on the environment and the social side too.

There has been a sea change in environmental regulation.

Over the past 15 years, environmental regulation has gone from looking at process and output-driven regulation to the products you’re putting out. The regulations have gone another step up the supply chain to companies like ourselves, with producer responsibility.

I understand the need for legislation.

If I was a legislator, I’d think: ‘Well, we need to look at vehicles, we want to have a look at electronics, tyres or batteries.’ And it’s much easier to go after hundreds of thousands of producers than it is to go after the billions of consumers.

Climate change is the next big thing.

We’ve been thinking about climate change for a long time because our energy impact of our operations is negligible compared with the amount of energy our products use in your office and in your home.

A lot of corporate customers are talking about things like the total cost of ownership – not about how cheap a PC is but how much it is going to cost to run it.

There’s plenty of cynicism about our green credentials.

When you get to the size HP is, there is a certain level of cynicism applied to what we say – and rightly so to a certain extent.

Because we are such a big company, the numbers are so big that it loses all sense of reality – like saying how many miles there are to the moon.

EMS is about the low-hanging fruit of environmental management.

We have ISO 14001 everywhere. We are one of the very few global firms that can say we have a global certificate.

I’ve been working in the environmental world since the early 1990s, and I started off doing true environmental management.

I was looking at energy bills, changing the boiler settings, turning things off a bit earlier in the evening, with a real focus on the low-hanging fruit of environmental management.

You don’t need people like me and Bruno doing that anymore.

Economics will drive change.

Energy prices are rising and it will be the economics that will drive change. I think the world will change. Hopefully, we’ll get our time in the spotlight.

Why do recycled products have a stigma?

We can’t force people to buy a green PC. We make them with all the eco-labels on them.

But they don’t necessarily get bought.

We don’t always tell customers about the product’s environmental credentials because there’s the perception about second-hand. We have a family of scanners on the market at the moment and their covers are 45% post-consumer plastic. It’s in very small writing on the packaging because we think people have a perception of second-hand.

It’s not enough to just be compliant.

It’s sometimes not enough to jog along. It’s not necessarily about being the greenest of the green, its about getting customers to look at the total cost of ownership.

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