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Progress, plastics, and persistence: HP’s 2021 Sustainable Impact report

Last year, HP reported a significant reduction in single-use plastics, advancements in recycled-plastic innovation; and progress toward its goals around climate action, digital equity, and human rights.

By Andrea Bell-Matthews — June 2, 2022

Plastic pollution has been a hot topic as of late, with several news-making moments promising to mitigate the roughly two garbage trucks of plastic that flow into the world’s ocean each minute. A problem of this scale will take a variety of solutions, from public policy to private industry.

Last week at the G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers meeting in Berlin, member countries committed to taking “ambitious actions” on the plastics lifecycle. Several US states have ratified (or are proposing to enact) legislation that would hold consumer goods manufacturers responsible for the costs of proper disposal of the packages and containers their products come in. There’s also been buzz about the “mutant” enzyme that is said to be able to dissolve PET plastic in such a way that more of it can be used for recycling and less of it sits around in landfills.

1,500 tonnes of Original HP Ink Cartridges were recycled in 2021.

HP Planet Partners

1,500 tonnes of Original HP Ink Cartridges were recycled in 2021.

HP, for its part, has had skin in the game for more than 30 years, when its Planet Partners supplies recycling program debuted, to help close the loop on consumer plastics. The momentum continues to this day. 

In HP’s recently published 2021 Sustainable Impact report, the company announced a significant reduction in single-use plastics, as well as advancements in recycled-plastic innovation, among others. 

These successes are part of a larger, comprehensive 2030 Sustainable Impact agenda that aligns to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and spans climate action, human rights, and digital equity. 

These efforts couldn’t come at a more critical moment, according to Chief Executive Officer Enrique Lores. “We are confronting a set of global challenges that are testing the very foundation on which our society is built,” he said in the report. “Of all the challenges facing the world, none is greater than the climate crisis.” 

HP said it reduced single use plastic packaging by 44% in 2021 vs. 2018, a 19% improvement over 2020. HP recently acquired Choose Packaging, the inventor of the only known commercially available zero-plastic paper bottle. Additionally, HP said it tallied nearly 1,300 metric tonnes of ocean-bound plastic in its products since 2016, the equivalent to more than 102 million (500 ml) plastic bottles.

Along with investing in non-plastic packaging alternatives, HP is partnering with leading conservation and environmental organizations, including World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, the Arbor Day Foundation, and the Jane Goodall Institute to invest in forest restoration and responsible management to counteract deforestation for non-HP paper used in HP printers and print services. Since 2020, all HP brand paper and paper-based packaging for home and office printers and supplies, PCs, and displays have been derived from recycled or certified sources.

 

Learn more about HP’s Sustainable Impact work.
 

The report also identifies areas where the company seeks  to improve. Even though HP has reduced emissions by 9% toward its goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, the company wants to move quicker considering the high stakes of climate change.

 

Mater Natura, courtesy of WWF

REGUA Nursery worker loads saplings to be planted in the Atlantic Forest in Brazil.

And HP isn’t just making changes in its own operations, but it’s also working to engage its suppliers and partners in sustainability programs. In early 2022, the company expanded its Amplify Impact channel partner program to empower more than 10,000 partners in over 40 countries to advance their own sustainable impact journeys.

HP’s transparency continues with its efforts in human rights. The company exceeded its goal of increasing factory participation in its supply chain sustainability programs by 114% compared to 2015. While HP ranks among the top technology companies for women in leadership positions and nearly 45% of US hires in 2021 were from racial/ethnic minorities, there is still progress to be made toward inclusive representation. Through 2021, 32.5% of director level and higher positions globally are represented by women at HP. 

In its quest to accelerate digital equity for 150 million by 2030 and enable better learning outcomes for 100 million by 2025, the company made significant gains. In its first year tracking progress against its digital equity goal, HP accelerated digital equity for 4.3 million people. And some 74 million students and adult learners have benefited from HP’s education programs and solutions since 2015, nearly three-quarters of the way to achieving its better learning outcomes goal.

 Its partnership with Girl Rising, a nonprofit delivering research-proven educational programming for girls, has been particularly successful, with more than 7 million students and teachers reached since 2019. Together, HP and Girl Rising are working toward a shared 2021 aspiration to equip 10 million students and teachers in the United States, India, and Nigeria with inclusive curriculum and technology. It also increased enrollment by 5% in HP LIFE, a program by the HP Foundation that provides entrepreneurship and digital skills training free of charge for start-ups, students, and small businesses. 

HP continues to show that these efforts have tangible business value, as consumers increasingly make buying decisions based on the social responsibility of brands. In 2021 alone, HP attributed $3.5 billion in new sales to their sustainability practices, a three-fold increase over 2020. 

Lores says, “While no single company, sector, or even country can solve the enormous global challenges before us, we know we can create a better future by working together, doing more, and inspiring others to do the same.” 

 

RELATED: How HP is teaming up with Dr. Jane Goodall for reforestation