HP minimizes the environmental impacts of our product packaging while
making sure it protects products cost effectively.
Packaging environmental impact depends largely on the quantity, type
and recyclability of materials used, as well as how the packaged product
is transported. HP's packaging engineers use our packaging
guidelines and other tools (see page 27 of FY05 report) to address
Assessing packaging environmental performance is complex, and it involves
trade-offs. For example, expanded polystyrene is easily recycled in many
regions, but in some cases its use increases package size compared to
use of other, less readily recyclable, materials. Its use also increases
box material and reduces units per pallet. To weigh these factors, we
base packaging decisions on the best available evidence regarding overall
The cost of alternatives can also impact substitution. In North America,
boxes with 35% minimum post-consumer recycled content cost up to 10% to
15% more than boxes with virgin content. In addition, to match virgin
fiber performance, the box weight needs to increase, which may raise transportation
costs. In such cases, we consider total costs, including transport and
disposal, as opposed to material cost only.
Eliminating materials of concern from our product packaging is a special
focus. We stopped using PVC in new packaging designs for HP product models
in 2006, and we will eliminate it entirely during 2007 as we deplete inventory
that is already produced. We are developing replacement polyethylene terephthalate
(PET) materials with 100% post-consumer recycled content where that material
is available. We are also moving from polystyrene foam to molded pulp
(made from recycled paper) when feasible; in fact, we transitioned all
camera products to paper-based alternatives in 2006. In some instances,
we have begun using biopolymer – biodegradable materials made from crops
such as sugar beet and corn.
Improved packaging can also bring benefits in product transportation.
For example, we reduced the weight of our standalone camera packaging
from 396g/unit in 2003 to 164g/unit in 2006. The smaller size allowed
us to increase the number of units per pallet from 200 to 720, which translated
into less energy required to ship each item (see Logistics
for more information).
Additionally, by redesigning box and cushion requirements for two commercial
desktop platforms, as well as qualifying alternate cushion materials,
we reduced average packaging weight by up to two pounds per unit and increased
We participate in packaging industry forums such as the Sustainable Packaging
Coalition and the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP). We worked
with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University
of California, Santa Barbara, to establish an industry-wide environmental
packaging certification program, which IoPP adopted as the basis for a
worldwide certification exam. Our target is for all HP product packaging
design team members to complete this certification or the internal HP
program. Starting in 2007, we will require IoPP certification for major
packaging suppliers and makers of HP-branded products.