HP is reinventing the way its products are designed, manufactured, used and recovered as it shifts its business model and operations towards a materials- and energy-efficient circular economy. At HP, a key concept in the circular economy is a materials cycle—where plastics, metals and other durable materials are continuously being used and reused for high-grade applications, without being “down-cycled” into lower-grade uses that eventually become waste. To achieve a healthy materials cycle, and reduce its product-related environmental impact, HP works to find alternatives to substances of concern, offers robust product recycling systems, designs for upgradeability and repairability and uses recycled content in new products. Together, these approaches drive its sustainability-driven materials management strategy. Equally, HP sees a business opportunity in designing products and services that meet and enable circular economy applications for its customers. It is committed to stimulating the development of recovered materials markets by using recycled content in new HP products.
The company’s overall long-term and enduring ambition is to take responsibility for its products throughout the entire lifecycle—to understand and own the impacts of its products along the value chain. The vision is to keep its products and materials in circulation for as long as possible. The company wants to lead the industry in driving circular design and practice.
Why is HP embracing the circular economy?
- Holistic: HP has a long track record of reducing its environmental impacts. The circular economy framework appeals to HP because it provides a comprehensive, unified approach to environmental footprint reduction. It brings many of HP’s environmental priorities together under one umbrella, including resource and energy efficiency (its design for the environment program) and the use of more benign materials, providing guidance on what to prioritize.
- Trends: The circular economy concept helps companies address macro trends of population growth, the growing middle class, increasing urbanization, the rise of the sharing economy and related resource impacts. It provides a signpost of what will be important to customers and businesses in the future. It positions HP to prepare for these trends. A great example is HP’s commercial 3D printing technology which is set to revolutionize supply chains.
- Innovation: Applying a circular economy lens to its business opens up opportunities for disruptive innovation at HP. By developing and applying advanced information technologies, HP can help scale the growth of the circular economy and create a competitive advantage.
- Regulation: Governments around the world are introducing policies and regulations to support and promote the circular economy. Through its participation in the circular economy movement, HP helps influence and anticipate future regulations and policies.
- Customers: Circular economy innovation provides an opportunity for the company to meet and exceed customers’ environmental and innovation expectations, such as waste reduction. Application of service-based models will drive a move from transactions to strong ongoing client relationships. HP has developed a supply chain resilient to the price spikes expected in commodities in the future, as demand increases.
While closing loops and reusing material were not new ideas to HP, the strong business drivers, changing customer imperatives and information and industrial technology revolution createdan economic argument that was. The circular economy concept provided a new paradigm for a new economy, and a pathway for a company seeking to decouple its environmental impacts from its growth.