We design packaging to cost-effectively protect our products while minimizing environmental impact. Our packaging guidelines help us balance factors such as the quantity, type and recyclability of materials used, as well as how the packaged product is transported.
Our strategy to reduce the total environmental footprint of HP’s packaging and logistics includes plans to:
- Increase the use of sustainable and recycled content and the recyclability of materials used
- Eliminate materials of concern, prior to their regulation
- Decrease the amount and types of packaging material per product
- Work with suppliers to develop innovative new materials and processes
- Reduce the size and weight of our product packaging
We eliminated PVC from our packaging in 2007.
Using sustainable packaging materials
Where possible, we are shifting from plastic packaging to paper and molded pulp that have been recycled or certified as sustainable. Where plastic packaging is used, we are shifting toward recycled materials where available. For many products, we use molded pulp made entirely from post-consumer recycled and industrial paper waste, instead of expanded polystyrene. We have also replaced the 100 percent virgin fibers in retail packaging for consumer photo paper and some in-house marketing materials (such as brochures, flyers and presentation papers) with 100 percent recycled fibers that contain a minimum of 35 percent post-consumer recycled content.
Sometimes continuing to use plastic packaging minimizes environmental impact—for example, if molded pulp packaging would have to be significantly larger to adequately protect the product or significantly heavier than plastic for products shipped by air. Where we cannot use paper packaging, such as for large desktop PCs, we are increasingly using foam cushions that contain recycled plastic. Our aim is to switch to 100 percent recycled foam plastic cushions where possible.
In 2009 we launched an innovative way to protect HP Photosmart A640 Printer products, by packing them in reusable tote bags made from recycled plastic bottles. The bag protects the printers during shipping and on store shelves, and customers can use it to carry their new product home.
Reducing the size of packaging
We work to reduce the size of packaging for many products, to decrease the amount of paper and plastic we use, and to make product transport more efficient.
In 2009 we redesigned our packaging for large products such as LaserJet printers, saving 147 tonnes of corrugated fiberboard per year. For example, we now use our ClearView packaging to ship high-end printers. In place of a corrugated cardboard box and foam packaging, we use minimal foam supports and wrap the product in widely recyclable film. This reduces the volume and weight of packaging by 70 percent. ClearView won the Industrial Designers Society of America award for International Design Excellence and an AmeriStar award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals.
Redesigning several of our display products enabled us to reduce the packaging required to protect them. We have cut annual corrugated fiberboard use by 5,100 tonnes and expanded polystyrene and other plastic packaging by 2,200 tonnes as a result. At the same time, reducing packaging size decreases the number of sea containers required to transport the products.
In many cases we ship cartridges installed in the printer. This reduces the amount of packaging material and the size of the packaged product, and allows transport of more printers per pallet. This initiative reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 3,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually.
In January 2010, we introduced a design restriction in our General Specification for the Environment (GSE) stipulating that a box cannot be more than twice the volume of the product it contains. We are working with third-party packaging fulfillment vendors to identify and address challenges in meeting this guideline. We are also reducing the amount of paper delivered “in the box,” such as warranties and manuals. (See Paper for more information.)
We track packaging material use by product line. We extrapolate data from Europe to provide the worldwide estimates below.
In 2008 and 2009 HP made shifts from plastic-based cushion to paper-based solutions. This increased average packaging weight, as paper-based solutions are typically heavier than plastic.
Packaging per product sold globally, 2005–2009 [average grams]*
Total weight used, 2005–2009 [thousand tonnes]*
- * This does not include data from former EDS operations.