HP as a forerunner in sustainable entrepreneurship

HP’s sustainability ambitions are huge, and more importantly, the rationale for how we are going to achieve the ambitions is transparent, says Rob Idink (photo), director of HP Holland. “We want to be the most sustainable and fair technology company in the world by 2030. And we’re well on our way”, referring, among other things, to the best position in the IDC Sustainability Index, but also the local initiative with Flex IT to bring used equipment back to market with high quality, HP Approved Selection.

Idink has a personal warm interest in sustainability, which is evident from his long-standing commitment as chairman of ICT Milieu, which was merged into the OPEN Foundation in 2020. In OPEN, Idink is chairman of the ICT product group. With his work for a circular society via ICT Milieu and the OPEN Foundation, he is in the right place at HP, which has had an eye on the environment since its foundation in 1939. Over the years, consideration for people and the environment has become increasingly important in the company. HP has been reporting its ambitions and achievements since 2001. HP’s 21st Sustainable Impact Report was presented this month.

Idink: “It is something to be proud of, and it means that we are seen as a forerunner in most sustainability reviews”. One of the lists that stands out as far as Idink is concerned is the IDC Sustainability Index. “With the highest average score in sustainability in light of what the business is about. It fits seamlessly into the HP Way to take a sharp look every year at where we can contribute even more to protecting the climate, human rights and digital equality.” By 2040, the company wants to be completely CO2-neutral throughout the chain. So too with suppliers, business partners and customers.

Not by itself

On that point, he mentions the government’s obligation to business to withdraw 65 percent of sold equipment/products from the market for recycling. “It doesn’t happen automatically. We achieve this goal in many cases for existing categories, but sub-segments are also added. Think about solar panels. They are relatively new, there is no recovery market for them yet.”

HP is working towards full circularity and is working hard on this in the Netherlands. Electric Leasing Cars, a building with the BREAAM certificate, looks to reduce the footprint in all areas.

When asked whether he thinks other organizations are doing enough for the climate, Idink answers thoughtfully, but hopefully: “It is very positive that many companies within and outside of IT now also present a sustainability report. However, we must be aware of the goals that are often mentioned. There are companies that have enormous ambitions in relation to circularity towards 2030, so I also think: You have only worked for a few years, how are you going to achieve it? Like HP, give annual transparency about what has been achieved and show how and how persistent you are. But the movement is undeniably positive.”


HP’s sustainability activities are diverse and are not limited to environmental protection. For example, Idink mentions that the company wants to be spacious. Both in the office and digitally. Because yes, he says, there is a difference. “In a digital meeting, you miss body language. You have to make an extra effort to involve people who are not always at the forefront of the conversations. Because we value everyone’s input.”

The company is committed to avoiding an (imminent) gap in society between people who have or do not have digital skills. It was committed to supporting families during the corona crisis who did not have money for a laptop to follow distance learning.

The next example that Idink mentions is the sustainable use of HP printing paper. “We get that from sustainably managed forests. We have a very large program worldwide. We have contributed locally by planting trees in and outside the Netherlands together with Trees for All. With this, HP also wants to promote biodiversity.”

Since 2016, deforestation has been taboo for the production of HP paper. By 2020, this will almost be achieved for the use of paper packaging materials. Finally, no more wood may be felled (without compensation) for HP. And it is a solid goal, because at the same time HP wants to use less plastic as packaging material. “We have already fished a lot of plastic from the sea for recycling. In the end, we only want to produce our cartridges with recycled plastic.”

Expand as-a-service

In order to achieve its sustainability goals, HP plans to expand its as-a-service offering, among other things. The company has been doing this for years with printers through its managed print services and Instant Ink, where you pay for the pages printed, not the ink used. “We are now also going to include compute in our portfolio. As HP Holland, we are at the forefront of our global business in this area.”

A further advantage of the as-a-service approach, explains Idink, is that the manufacturer retains ownership of the products. This means that it has a permanent view of the equipment and does not have to make an extra effort to collect it for recycling.

In that light, Idink talks a lot about the initiative with Flex IT: ‘HP Approved Selection by Flex IT line’. “There is a great demand for circular IT. Customers and business partners ask about this. We – with Flex IT – give the equipment a new life. We recreate written-off products, check them thoroughly and repair or upgrade what is necessary. When finished, they are as good as new. With a three-year warranty. A used one with high quality. I would like to challenge every customer and business partner to look at this and, for example, take part in the investment in refurbishment.”

Business perspective

21 years ago, it was still necessary to explain that sustainability is also a good business perspective. “Now it is no longer necessary. Our partners see that customers want to buy sustainably; they see that customers want to be climate neutral. Then you also need products and services that can support them in that pursuit.”

“And our employees, not least the new generation, simply expect that they can play a role in the area of ​​sustainability. Our sustainability activities are a reason to want to work with us.”

By: Teus Molenaar

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