HP Wins the Guardian Sustainable Business Award in Collaboration

HP Wins the Guardian Sustainable Business Award in Collaboration

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 11:20am


On Wednesday, May 14, The Guardian awarded HP with a Sustainable Business Award for our work to reduce electronic waste (e-waste), protect health and the environment, and create jobs in Kenya for those most in need. We’re achieving this goal by building a unique, scalable and replicable model for sustainable recycling in the developing world.

The Guardian gave us our award in the category of Collaboration, which recognizes “a project or initiative that breaks down traditional barriers.” We see the award as another acknowledgement of our always-evolving sustainability strategy, which dates back to 1957, when our founders, Bill and Dave, developed the first list of HP corporate objectives—which included Global Citizenship. Since then, being a good corporate citizen has been integral to HP’s innovation and performance, and today is brought to life through HP Living Progress, the company’s vision of creating a better future for everyone through its actions and innovations.

Addressing the e-waste problem in Kenya—and beyond
As Africa’s economy continues to grow rapidly, so does its demand for electronics like domestic appliances, computer hardware and mobile phones. When these devices are discarded, they become e-waste. When managed responsibly, e-waste is a resource that can create jobs and contribute to the economy. But when the materials are collected or recycled incorrectly, it can be hazardous not only to the health of the individuals handling the e-waste, but also to the environment.

To date, HP has recycled more than 2.5 billion pounds of electronic products and supplies—this is equivalent to the weight of 45 Statue of Liberty monuments. And in 2010, we initiated an equipment recycling program to address the e-waste problem in Africa, which has led to our award-winning recycling project in Kenya.

“The plan is to open new collection points throughout the country. We are appealing to all Kenyans to come and support the initiative. Kenya is going to be a green country.”

-- Charles Kuria, managing director, HP Kenya

Building a sustainable model
To develop our equipment recycling program in Kenya, we collaborated across industries—and with local organizations and individuals—to implement:

  • East Africa’s first large-scale recycling facility— the East African Compliant Recycling center (EACR) —for the environmentally responsible separation and dismantling of e-waste; and
  • Kenya’s first-ever registered collection network for e-waste with 40 planned collection points. Each collection point is housed in a shipping container and works with a network of individuals who are trained to safely collect e-waste and bring it to the collection points. These entrepreneurial micro-businesses and individual collectors receive payments at global market rates.

“This is the first model of its kind, not just in Africa but anywhere in the world. This model is about connecting the collector to the global markets for the materials, and providing them with a fair and transparent price, to ensure they get the maximum value for the waste."

-- Robert Truscott, chief executive, EACR

Unconventional collaboration
Our size allows us to look beyond traditional partnerships to collaborate across the private, public and academic sectors—and between individuals and multinational corporations—to achieve significant cost advantages and operational efficiency. To develop our e-waste program in Kenya, for example, we worked with several partners, including:

  • UK-based Reclaimed Appliances to launch the EACR;
  • DEG, a German investment organization, for funding and project management in developing countries;
  • Kenyan government authorities to develop the necessary regulatory environment; and
  • The University of Northampton, to deliver recycling training and awareness.

We teamed with EACR to develop an IT management solution to support the recycling model and to ensure that the new system meets globally recognized health and environmental standards. We also provided funding, IT equipment and expertise to design the IT system integrating mobile devices and cloud-based systems.

Creating value
This initiative is a powerful example of HP Living Progress and supports our commitment to Making It Matter all across the globe. Positive impacts of this work include:

  • Establishing collection networks reduces hazardous dump sites. Materials recovered at treatment centers are returned to the supply stream, lessening the need for mining.
  • Eliminating unsafe recycling practices reduces toxic pollutants, creating a healthier environment for workers and local residents.
  • Creating a collection network increases opportunities for microbusinesses, helping provide people with essential incomes and health insurance. More than 1,000 jobs are expected to be created.