Technology that makes business and society thrive, an interview with HP

More than 20 years ago, in 2000, tech company HP released its first environmental and social impact report. As Enrique Lores, President and CEO of HP, says: “We did so because HP was built on the idea that the purpose of a corporation extends far beyond profit. From our earliest days, we have believed that by creating technology in the service of humanity, we can create the conditions for business and society to thrive hand in hand.” But how does HP address this? How do they create true environmental and social impact?

Joeri Van den Bergh connects with Ellen Jackowski, Chief Impact Officer and Head of Sustainable Impact, and Matt Cowling, Head of Global Marketing Consumer PCs at HP, to talk about how the brand fuels ‘Conscious Consumption’.


Q: As a recycling leader, HP encourages its customers to return empty cartridges to make new ones. How does this ‘closed loop’ process help you to go beyond environmental, to also have social impact?

Ellen: “Ink cartridges are one of our leading products. For over 30 years, we’ve been offering a closed-loop recycling process. Our customers can send their empty cartridges back to us and we disassemble them. We then shred the plastic in each cartridge and mix it with recycled bottle plastic to strengthen it. And we reshape it into a new cartridge, fill it with ink, and put it back on the market.

Typically, we’ve been buying those recycled bottles from the North American market. But we realized there was an opportunity to create even bigger environmental benefits and social impact. So, we partnered with an NGO and another business partner to source plastic out of Haiti. By hiring a team of local collectors, we are not only preventing plastic from flowing into the ocean; we’re also creating jobs – 1,100 to date – and are able to put the children of our plastic collectors in school. We could still be sourcing recycled bottles off the North American market; but by doing things differently, we can make a greater impact.

And we continue to scale those operations. We’ve recently installed a washing line to add more capability to the production in Haiti and elevate the quality of the plastic. This allows our recycling partner to compete better on the global plastics market. So now, other companies are also attracted to this local player that we helped to strengthen. We’re convinced this is the model of the future. Therefore we are replicating what we did in Haiti in other areas.”


Q: Talking about ocean plastic is understandable and relatable for consumers. But can you tell us more on how HP communicates about its sustainability efforts, and share some campaign examples?

Matt: “At HP, we’ve always valued sustainability and equity. We’ve been talking about this for 80 years. We’re proud of these values and the ways we’re executing on them – from creating the world’s first notebook with ocean-bound plastics to launching one of the most diverse boards of directors in tech. And we know that when we share the same values as our consumers, we can connect more authentically with them. That’s why it’s important we tell these stories. We unveiled a new campaign at the Olympics. The first spot is ‘Parallel Lives’. It shows the journey of a piece of plastic and a fish, addressing the threat of climate change and illustrating how we use ocean-bound plastics in our products.

For diversity, we launched ‘Orchestra’, depicting team members working together like a musical ensemble. The point is that diversity of talent, thought and background powers innovation and success.

As a company, we realized a long time ago we need to ‘walk the talk’; so diversity and inclusion aren’t new to us. Yet, I think it might be to others that do not know HP that well. Often, it’s said that we are our worst best-kept secret. We’re putting it much more to the forefront now.”

In summary, technology company HP is always on the look-out for how ‘doing things differently’ can lead to greater impact. Sourcing recycled plastics from Haiti, for instance, allows the brand to create bigger environmental benefits and a broader social impact. The brand is investing actively in bringing this topic more to the forefront. Examles are its most recent campaigns ‘Parallel Lives’ and ‘Orchestra’.


Hungry for more? Stay tuned as we will release more ‘Conscious Consumption’ interviews in the coming weeks!

Conscious Consumption

Conscious Consumption

Sustainability is a key concern amongst consumers, and this has only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. This bookzine highlights some of the key barriers amongst consumers as well as their expectations towards brands, through proprietary research, expert interviews with sustainability executives from several industries, and brand illustrations.

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