HP Insight: How is Circularity Reducing Carbon Emissions?

Mike Boyle, Global Head of Large Format Go-To-Market at HP shares how circularity is reducing carbon emissions in the print industry and beyond

Mike Boyle, Global Head of Large Format Go-To-Market at global technology giant HP is passionate about innovation, driving growth and working with extraordinary customers, colleagues and partners. As the IT industry continues to evolve and transform – he advises to embrace change and benefit from it. 

One such change he thinks that companies can benefit from is embracing sustainable practices, and embedding them into wider business strategy. 

He sat down with Sustainability Magazine to explore the benefits of circularity, and how companies are best positioned to embrace it. 

What is circularity, and how is it helping reduce carbon emissions in the print industry and beyond?

The world's resources are being depleted as much as 1.8 times faster than the planet can naturally replenish them. E-waste is a major contributing factor. From phones and computers to home appliances and printers, figures suggest around 50 million tonnes of e-waste are disposed of each year. That's the equivalent weight of all commercial airliners ever manufactured. 

But businesses, individuals and society have the potential to cut this figure considerably by embracing a ‘circular economy’. This means recycling, reusing and regenerating products rather than binning them – and actively minimising waste, or the need for new materials, at every stage of a product's life cycle.

Within the print industry, carbon emissions in the manufacturing process are being dramatically offset through the use of recycled plastics in product design, while paper and packaging materials are also being sourced responsibly and in a regenerative way. HP has taken the lead here, such as with its latest DesignJet printers for architects and designers, that have reduced carbon emissions by 7.3 tons a year (per printer). 

How can circularity be embraced by design throughout the entire product lifecycle, and how are regeneration initiatives critical to bringing change full circle?

Circularity begins in the R&D process by using sustainably sourced materials and embedding ethical working practices throughout product manufacturing. This is just as important as asking customers to recycle what they end up buying and to help close the loop.

That said, regeneration initiatives are critical to recouping materials. For example, working alongside charities like First Mile, HP has established a recycling facility in Haiti that processes and reuses ocean-bound plastics. We have retrieved over 110 million ocean-bound plastic bottles and reused this material in our products to date. Beyond this, the facility has created 1,100 new employment opportunities, providing local citizens with a meaningful income. 

Environmental regeneration is also fundamental to driving circularity. According to research, nearly half of the world’s forests are under threat, and if print services truly want to tackle the climate crisis head on, regenerating our forests must be at the heart of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) strategies. HP is 32% of the way to countering deforestation for all paper brands used in our products and services by 2030, and we want to inspire the industry to join us on this critical mission. 

How can organisations build trust in circularity and corporate sustainability in general?

Transparency is essential if businesses wish to effectively communicate goals and ambitions for a more circular economy. With so many businesses talking about sustainability, consumers have become even more aware of what it means to be environmentally friendly, and in turn has led to some firms being suspected of ‘greenwashing’.

Businesses have an obligation to be open and honest and must take responsibility to ensure ESG credentials are readily available, so customers remain informed. Third-party accreditors such as ENERGY STAR, TCO, and Blue Angel are fundamental pillars to building brand trust, and one way HP ensures clear and accurate information on all our labels, packaging, and marketing materials.  

Why is industry collaboration the key to driving change – and what do successful partnerships look like?

Sustainable impact is at the heart of HP’s strategy, but no single organisation can resolve the world’s environmental challenges alone. That’s why it’s important businesses, investors, governments, think tanks, and NGOs work towards the same goals. Doing so, will mean ESG goals are met faster.

Partnering with the likes of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Forest Stewardship Council to verify paper and packaging fibre sourcing, and provide respected certifications in turn, has helped HP ensure its ambitions are being realised on the ground. As a growing number of companies collaborate to protect the world’s natural resources, more will be motivated to improve their own operating practices, and thus the collective positive impact grows. 

How are new technologies, such as smart printing and AI, making circularity a reality for the print industry?

New technologies continue to unlock new operating models and efficiency gains that allow businesses and consumers to be even more sustainable.

For instance, smart printing – often driven through cloud-based apps that allow for the management of hardware and software via a single interface, like HP Print OS or HP Smart – can enable better management of jobs and inventory. This can significantly reduce overproduction, minimising waste of resources such as paper and ink.

Advances in artificial intelligence will have many currently unforeseen societal benefits. But for technologies like print, it will be first used to improve system diagnostics and predicted maintenance, by identifying potential problems before they materialise. This will help ensure less downtime and ensure devices have a longer lifespan. Elsewhere, AI will also help businesses identify more efficiencies across complex global supply chains, providing more opportunities for circularity.

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