As a tech analyst, I like to cover a wide range of topics, from hard news (new products, services, financials), to the softer content, such as business strategy, company culture and corporate social responsibility programs. It should be no surprise that those tech companies that shine in the latter areas also tend to be the most successful after the markets close on earnings day.
Industry stalwart HP Inc. stands out both for its venerable line of desktops, laptops and printers, but also for how it gives back. Environmental sustainability is HP’s bread and butter—the company has been prioritizing earth-friendly products and programs longer than most of its employees have been alive, introducing a recycling program for computer punch cards in 1966. It has become one of the champions of the circular economy movement in the last several years, replacing much of the non-renewables in its product line with recycled paper, plastics and metals.
HP has also been one of the most aggressive companies in the industry regarding climate action and efforts to reduce its overall carbon footprint. I last checked in on HP’s sustainability efforts on Earth Day 2021, when it made headlines with a new slate of ambitious climate goals. One of these was an ambitious commitment to achieve net-zero deforestation by the year 2030. Last week, HP Inc. followed up with a significant $80 million expansion of its partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, a cornerstone of its plan to combat and counteract deforestation. Let’s take a closer look.
This considerable investment adds to HP Inc. and WWF’s preexisting partnership, which began in earnest in 2019. That same year, HP unveiled its Forest Positive pledge to give back more than it takes from forest ecosystems. Since then, the companies have collaborated to achieve biodiversity conservation, climate resilience and clean water and air, focusing on bamboo and forests in China’s Fujian, Guangxi and Guangdong provinces and the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. The two organizations work with local institutions and community members to help improve land management while protecting the co-benefits these forested areas provide to the people, plants and animals that call them home.
The quest for net-zero deforestation
While HP Inc.’s own paper and paper-based packaging can already claim a net-zero impact on deforestation, that does not account for the widespread use of third-party paper in HP printers and printing services worldwide. The new influx of funding (which brings HP’s total investment in the cause up to about $100 million) will go towards balancing the fiber impact of all the non-HP paper used by the company’s commercial and consumer offerings. Through a variety of efforts to restore, protect and improve land management, HP claims it will cancel out 17 million metric tons of paper used in its products and services over the next ten years—an amount equivalent to approximately one million acres of forest (or around five times the size of New York City).
Notably, HP is also the first company to pilot WWF’s new, science-based targets for forest conservation (developed with the help of HP’s funding). The WWF derived these targets using a new draft methodology to predict the specific impact of printing on forests and identify key regions to focus conservation efforts.
Along with the announcement came the news that the two companies have also joined each other’s forest conservation initiatives, with WWF now a part of HP’s Sustainable Forest Collaborative and HP a part of WWF’s new Forest Forward program. Forest Forward advises large companies on nature-based solutions and responsible sourcing that can help them meet their sustainability goals while respecting the rights of local communities. The Sustainable Forest Collaborative seeks to demonstrate approaches to keeping forest ecosystems happy and healthy in both scientific and commercially viable ways.
HP has been a trailblazer in many areas of sustainability, such as its ocean-bound plastics initiative, its Instant Ink subscription service, its early participation in the well-known Energy Star certification program and more. The company’s ability to reach zero deforestation with its own paper and printing services was groundbreaking in and of itself. And now, HP is one of the first companies to go beyond its own value chain and operations also to target the downstream environmental impact of third-party paper vendors. WWF president and CEO Carter Roberts argues that such a comprehensive approach is required to solve the dual, intertwined problems of climate change and ecological collapse. HP’s efforts to go beyond its supply chain should serve as a blueprint to other businesses looking to take their environmental stewardship to the next level.
The fight to combat climate change requires all hands on deck, but companies are often afraid to be the first to jump. Not so, with HP. The fact that HP Inc. isn’t satisfied to simply negate the impact of its own paper products only further proves the company’s commitment to protecting the world’s endangered ecosystems. Instead of resting on its laurels, it’s pushing ahead to set an example for others. Now that HP has lit the way, I hope to see other tech companies adopt similar approaches to mitigate their downstream impact.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.