The Top Eco-Brands

Tech: Hewlett-Packard

Eco-Friendly PC Maker Builds on Successes and Expands Recycling Goal

By Published on .

After an aggressive program results in the recycling of 1 billion pounds of electronics, what's next?

Green-technology leader Hewlett-Packard Co. had beaten its deadline by six months in July, so it ramped up its own challenge by immediately setting a new goal to reach 2 billion pounds in just three more years, by 2010.

H-D Screw It

Leading the way
  • Streaming video and other digital efforts get the word out
  • Recycling programs pick up steam
  • Drives Green Expressway online resources
"We have a really strong baseline, but one of the important parts of our [environmental] effort is that it's built around collaboration ... with suppliers, customers and other partners," says Susanne Sonderhoff, marketing manager for corporate, social and environmental responsibility.

One of HP's key partnerships is with the World Wildlife Fund.

HP is the group's information-technology partner, and it widened joint efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, improve energy use, use more-efficient technology and educate others. HP sponsored the WWF's first international "Earth Hour" in March, when businesses and consumers turned off lights for one hour.

Maintaining authenticity
In another marketing sponsorship, HP backed the action campaign built around the 2007 documentary "The 11th Hour" -- often called a sequel to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" -- produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Still, the marketing efforts continue to be relatively conservative, Ms. Sonderhoff says. "We definitely have to keep in mind the perception of 'greenwashing' and that fear ... that's grown even more over the past year."

HP last year was the first PC maker to get a gold rating for an eco-friendly PC from one of the toughest electronics regulatory bodies around, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.

The EPEAT program takes into account 23 required criteria -- and 28 optional ones -- including product longevity, design, packaging and end-of-life management.

Since then, HP has logged several dozen more gold listings for its products, more than any other PC maker and a big improvement over its previous year of mostly bronze or silver ratings.

Web push
The marketing efforts tend to lead consumers to HP's website, which provides eco-information and includes blogs, podcasts and videos that not only explain HP's efforts but also can be used by partners in their digital marketing.

The "Go Green with HP" work includes such segments as the Green Expressway, which points viewers to specifics on HP's energy-efficiency programs, news and research.

Web marketing will be a focus this year, Ms. Sonderhoff says, as HP tries to figure out the best way to leverage Web 2.0 tools such as social networking and other online collaborative efforts with consumers.

Other green strides for HP in the past year have included removing the mercury fluorescent tubes in its notebook computers (making them 95% recyclable) and designing products that use fewer metals. HP says in one year it's saved enough metal through design to build another Eiffel Tower.

HP also delved deeper into renewable energy in the past year with a solar project to supply energy to its facilities in San Diego and a wind effort for its buildings in Ireland. HP increased total renewable energy purchased to 50 million kilowatt hours during 2007, up from 11 million in 2006.

HP recently announced it would put eco-labeling on all its products that have environmental features detailing the energy impact of the products.

HP has added a sustainability lab as part of its HP Labs research-and-development division, which, while more futuristic in its scope, is also geared to spark more creativity and environmental projects. Also planned is expansion of an in-house program that culled environmentally friendly ideas from HP employees (such as decreasing use of plastic products in the cafeteria) and possibly suggestions from consumers.
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