After the wheat is harvested in farming communities in parts of rural China, the air is often so thick with smoke that roads become impassable and it’s hard to breathe. Farmers, inundated with leftover straw, typically torch the excess crop to dispose of it.
In these pyres of burning straw, HP saw an opportunity, thanks to an innovative program that collects and recycles it into pressed shipping pallets that protect printers and PCs as they are sent around Asia.
Call it a triple-win: The recycling of straw into pallets reduces air pollution by eliminating the burning of the some 600 million tons of excess straw produced each year that cannot be re-sold; reduces deforestation by not cutting down trees to make wood shipping pallets; and finally, creates jobs for Chinese farmers by having them collect the straw after the harvest.
“Straw is not new to HP,” says Daniel Zhu, HP’s program manager for straw-based packaging in Shanghai. Indeed, HP was the first IT company to replace wood pallets with natural straw ones. Over the last two years, HP’s pallet supplier, RenewMaterial, has repurposed non-hazardous forestry waste into about 80,000 eco-friendly pallets, used for transporting HP’s inkjet printers along the Yangtze River from where they are manufactured in Chongqing, to retailers, e-tailers and consumers.
Reducing deforestation, a leading cause of climate change, is a major focus of HP’s sustainable impact efforts. Among the compay's goals is to ensure all HP brand paper and paper-based packaging comes from recycled and certified sources.