What do you get when 70 men and two ­women attend an environmental engineering course at university? Powerful business leaders like Dr. Kirstie McIntyre, Global Director for HP Inc.’s sustainability operations and an early pioneer in green supply chains.

She “fell into her degree’,” says McIntyre. “I was enrolled by my mother while I was on a gap year in South America. She went to an information fair and thought the course looked like it had great prospects.” McIntyre emerged from her studies with a doctorate in engineering and got sponsored to do further studies in manufacturing and supply chain. This led her to be part of the team at Surrey Univer­sity, U.K., that developed ISO 14040:2006, which describes the principles and framework for life cycle assessment (LCA) – again, pioneering work in the green arena.

HP in Haiti

Haiti‘s plastic waste is now more of a genuine commodity thanks to an initiative led by HP Inc. The tech giant, in an embrace of the circular economy, is offering educational opportunities and health care to communities of waste collectors in the notoriously garbage-laden country in exchange for plastic water bottles to process into new ink cartridges. As an attempt to break the so-called “material loop,” HP‘s program is another step in the company‘s continuous effort to reimagine their supply chain while also creating feasible and regular employment for those most harmed by the consequences of wasteful manufacturing. There are alternatives to the traditional linear life cycles of products, and HP and Haiti understand that.  

HP’s Environmental goals

  • Reduce first-tier production supplier- and product transportation-related GHG emissions intensity by 10 percent by 2025 as compared to 2015
  • Prevent 2 million metric tons of CO2e emissions from suppliers between 2010 and 2025
  • Reduce GHG emissions from global operations by 25 percent by 2025 as compared to 2015
  • Commit to 100 percent renewable electricity in global operations, achieving 40 percent by 2020
  • Reduce fresh water consumption in operations 10 percent by 2025 as compared to 2015
  • Reduce the GHG emissions intensity of the HP product portfolio by 25 percent by 2020 as compared to 2010
  • Achieve zero deforestation caused by HP paper-based products and packaging by 2020
  • Recycle 1.2 million metric tons of hardware and supplies by 2025, beginning in 2016

Today at HP Inc., McIntyre globally manages a range of sustainability programs that are close to the company’s heart, such as closed-loop materials, takeback and recycling. Her remit covers all-product and service-related environmental laws and market access agreements on energy efficiency, chemical/material restrictions and end-of-life considerations. A core part includes liaison with government entities, industry associates, supply chain partners and HP’s customers on environmental regulations, recycling and other sustainability aspects of HP’s products. 

Operating in 170 countries, HP believes that sustainability is a powerful force for innovation. This belief is a driving factor across many aspects of the company’s business, from product and service design through to new business models around new technologies such as 3-D printing and supply chain digitization. 

Increasingly, the company is shifting its business mode toward a fully sustainable approach – with McIntyre acting as co-lead of HP’s circular economy program, helping to steer operations toward a full circular economy model.

IFIXIT

iFixit is an online community dedicated to giving consumers proper access to their own products. Under the mandate that “repair is noble,” the California-based company seeks to reduce global electronic waste with a user-generated database of repair manuals for common home technology. Guidebooks for fixing HP Inc.’s laptops are available on iFixit.com and regularly receive perfect “10/10” repairability review scores from users.

Sustainability goals

The company has set itself bold sustainability goals, intended to drive progress across its entire value chain. These encompass a 25 percent reduction of absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. To meet that goal, HP produces low-carbon solutions and energy-efficient products, aiming to reduce environmental impact through safer materials and greener packaging. Mate­riality assessments help to shape the sustainability strategy and investments, as well as identify emerging issues and new leadership opportunities for HP. By setting goals related to its most material issues, the company drives both progress and long-term goals.

“In addition,” says McIntyre, “HP Inc. places key importance on societal impact. People matter, and we intend to develop skills and improve the wellbeing of some 500,000 factory workers by 2025, an initiative that was started in 2015. We also want to be a key enabler in education, generating better education outcomes for 100 million people by 2025.”

Green supply chains were an early focus for McIntyre, as they formed part of her doctoral thesis some 25 years ago. At the time, supply chains were a rather unusual topic for a doctorate – while today, says McIntyre, they are of key importance, due to their ever-growing complexity and ability to optimize business strategy. In addition to traditional, straightforward supply chains, reverse loops for materials and products have become a key focus at HP, and one McIntyre finds among the most interesting: With new, refreshed and refurbished products, she sees HP able to offer multiple life cycles for a product, and with some five million units of hardware repaired in 2016 alone, it’s clearly a growing trend.

In order to enable products to have several life cycles, HP continually aims to improve its product design, paying key attention to better design for easier repair, reuse and refurbishing.

So, where next on HP’s sustainability path? McIntyre sees plenty of room for growth in sustainable supply chain design, manufacturing and reverse logistics. A key growth area is device as a service (DaaS), with HP leasing the products to customers and managing supply, repair and returns, thus enabling businesses to focus on operating expenses rather than adding capital expenditure to their balance sheet – something she believes procurement departments need to focus on much more. McIntyre sees demand from customers growing steadily: “I believe that the growth of the service/ sharing economy with players such as Netflix and Airbnb has opened minds to the concept of not owning fixed assets.”

“Ultimately,” says McIntyre, “it’s about trust and collaboration. The way toward a sustainable future is built on the foundation of trust between suppliers and customers, creating partnerships to ensure a more sustainable future – for business, for people and for the planet.” —  Michelle Bach

Published: November 2017

Images: Victoria Adamson for Delivered; HP