Hewlett-Packard: Green Technology

An integral attribute of modern technological manufacture is the requirement of the control over effect on the environment, and the social and ecological responsibility of the enterprises-manufacturers. Power restrictions and worsening ecological conditions turn with inevitability the information technologies toward the direction which received the name Green IT. (“Eco-Efficiency and Eco-Innovation for IT,” 2009)

Green IT in computer manufacture is the innovation giving a tribute to the requirements of ecological compatibility of manufacture. The purpose of such technologies are the reduction of harmful influence on the nature and the people, and the concern of the future generations in both the preservation of the environment (energy-saving, air pollution, recycling), and the reduction of influence on people’s health.

The constant search for new ways to deal with environmental issues, which resulted from the development of information technologies and the expansion of computers manufacture, is driven by the raised concern for environmental problems and manufacturers’ responsibility to manage them. The interrelation of economy, ecology and ethics in those problems, assumes performing practices, which are based on ethical principles. These ethical principles include responsible treatment to the nature, concern for the future generations, and respect and observance of the rights of all living subjects.

In the last 2-3 years, the theme of ecological responsibility of the manufacturers of computer technologies became the most discussed in the mass media as well as business and scientific conference such as IT Future, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, and the annual exhibit of information technology Cebit in Germany.

Following such interest most manufacturers are providing sufficient solutions that deal with areas of Green IT. Nevertheless, Hewlett Packard’s contribution in solving ecological problems can be distinguished among other companies in being the first in several directions of green technology. Thus, it can be said that Innovation and leadership contributed to the success of the company in all directions, the business, the technology, and the environmental responsibility.

Brief History

Hewlett Packard (HP) is an IT company that operates in more than 170 countries around the world. (HP, 2009b)The company is ranked the first in the industry of computers and office equipment and the 41st in Fortune’s list of the largest companies in the world. (“Fortune Global 500,” 2007)

The company’s has over 321,000 employees and as of 2008 the revenues of the company were approximately $118,364 million with an increase of 13.5% over 2007. (“Hewlett-Packard Company,” 2009a) The company is leading in several markets among which inkjet printers, laser printers, enterprise storage, servers, and global personal computer market. In printers market HP is the largest player.

The foundation of the company is exemplary of American success story, where two Stanford University classmates, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, starting from a garage and backed up by only $538 not only founded Hewlett-Packard in 1939 but also created the Silicon Valley. (Cranny, 1996) Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were engineers and both put their experiences in their partnership, where Hewlett was specialized in circuit technologies and Packard had experience in manufacturing process.

Their success was growing steadily, where in addition to their pragmatic approach the timing of the electronic revolution, which was characteristic of the post World War II era, was a vital factor. The growing success can be shown through the rapid raise in their sales, where for example in 1951 Hewlett-Packard’s sales were $5.5 million, and the company had 215 employees, while “[b]y 1965, sales were $165 million with 9,000 employees; the company had gone public and had acquired several smaller entities and was in the process of building one of the world’s largest electronic research centers.” (Cranny, 1996)

The late sixties were marked by the foundation of the Silicon Valley, where HP entered the semiconductors market. The market of computers was entered by HP by introducing the HP 2100 and the HP1000, two models that lasted for twenty years, before introducing their next model, HP 2640. The leading position of HP was raised when they introduced inkjet and laser printers in 1984, where HP invented its ThinkJet printing technology. (“The History of Hp,” 2009)

Today HP can be distinguished by providing a wide range of products, form individual solutions to software and services worldwide. Their products include Enterprise Storage and Servers for industrial purpose, HP Services such as technology, consulting and integration, and outsourcing services, HP Software, Personal Systems Group, Imaging and Printing Group and HP Financial Services. (“Hewlett-Packard Company,” 2009b)

Environmental Failures

The concern for HP’s environmental violation can be seen through the complaints filed by EPA, where in 1998 the company was manufacturing and exporting chemicals prior to completing Pre-manufacturing notice. (EPA, 1998)The concern raised by this complaint emphasized the necessity of reviewing the chemical toxicity of a product before bringing it to commerce. Accordingly, by ignoring such requirements HP violated the Toxic Substance Control Act, and was potentially exposing the public and the environment to possible unknown risks.

Additionally, in 2002 Scorecard, a pollution information website published Environmental Release Report on Hewlett Packard, according to which the company was in the 80-90 and 90-100 percentiles for off-site transfers and production related waste respectively, and in 30-40 percentiles for air releases of recognized developmental toxicants. Also the company’s facilities located in Puerto Rico released about 246 pounds of pollutants such as cardiovascular or blood toxicants, developmental toxicants, kidney toxicants, neurotoxicants, and reproductive toxicants. (TRI, 2002)

Going Green

What are the green technologies in the computer sphere? Today the term “green” is understood as such computer or hardware, which influence on the environment is considerably reduced in comparison with the usual computer. Ideally, the “green” computer should support a whole spectrum of tasks which allows lowering harmful influence.

Such tasks include ensuring the absence of toxic substances among computer parts, low level of electromagnetic radiations and noise, maintenance of energy efficiency in the computer, decrease in emitted heat and consumed electric power, and the possibility of recycling and reprocessing of separate components. The most important concern of developers is the creation of new products that allows saving electric energy, and in mo re preferable variant, using renewed energy sources for their products.

The motivation for developing and implementing energy-saving computer technologies is based on pragmatic calculation of the spent resources on the consumed electric power. The scale and the quantity of power-intensive installations can serve as the main argument, starting from personal computers at homes, and finishing with huge data centers, which are consuming electric power in considerable quantity, and thus emitting heat, in decreasing which, additional power resources are used.

In that direction, the initiation of HP can be seen through their products, such as the new notebook batteries in the new Enviro series.

HP’s Enviro series are made using Boston-Power’s Sonata battery design, which boasts numerous improvements to lithium-ion technology. Amongst the improvements are nearly halved recharge times, retained capacity for the life of most notebooks (three years), more per-charge battery life compared to most six cell designs, and improvements on safety. (Lord, 2009)

Additionally, in relation to energy savings, HP deployed its Dynamic Smart Cooling technology at its data center in Bangladore, India. The new system allowed reducing 20% in cooling power, and when optimized, it should bring in energy savings of up to 40 percent. Such reduction is considerable if taking in consideration the power consumed by a data center which is comprised of 14 lab centers occupying 70,000 square foot. (Lawson, 2007)

Another concern for environment, specifically in IT context can be based on the fast obsolescence of technology. Manufacturers in a pursuit of ultimate technologies and profits shift to more consummate technological processes, and accordingly the prices decrease, the capacities and the productivity of industrial and personal computers increase, and the process of their obsolescence is inevitably accelerated on various parameters, such as the sizes and weight, and power and speed.

In this context, there is a dilemma for manufacturers. One choice is using outdated equipment without raising the environmental contamination level, and sacrificing productivity and efficiency. The other choice is to continue developing technologies without thinking about harm, and hoping, that by the moment when pollution level will appear above admissible norms, there will be a universal utilizing technology.

In that regard, HP is already showing that recycling is the solution to such dilemma by being the first computer company manufacturer to operate its own recycling facility in 1997.(HP, 2009a)

HP’s recycling initiations demonstrated as a part of their eco solutions provide several options for unwanted and outdated hardware. These options include trade in opportunities, where the company provides fair market prices for aging technology, refurbishing and reselling computer equipment of companies that no longer need them, accepting donation of used computers as partnership program with the National Cristina Foundation, and the most important option – recycling. (HP, 2009a)

HP provides recycling opportunities by providing drop off location in U.S. and Canada, accepting any brands of computers, and not only HP’s, and recycling HP Inkjet and LaserJet cartridges for free. In that regard, HP has succeeded in reaching considerable results, where the company reached the goal set in 2004 in recycling billion pounds by 2007.(HP, 2007)It should be noted that the company reached its goal six months earlier, and already established a new target to reach 2 billion by 2010.

Additionally, 2007 was the 20th anniversary of the inception of HP recycling program, which operates in more than 40 countries and regions. As stated by Mark Hurd, HP chairman and chief executive officer, “We’ve reached the tipping point where the price and performance of IT are no longer compromised by being green, but are now enhanced by it.” (HP, 2007)Regarding HP’s leadership and position among their competitors, it should be noted that in 2006 “HP recovered 187 million pounds of electronics globally, 73 percent more than IBM, its closest competitor.” (HP, 2007)

Another important notion in terms of environmental concern is the participation aspect. Ecological directivity and ethical conditionality of many problems in manufacture and introduction of green solutions has the positive consequences, created by the development of information technologies.

General knowledge of problems of an ecological threat, propagation of ideas of social responsibility of business and individual practice of small businesses, and the marketing projects based on the requirements of a modern society, allow creating conditions for gradual advancement of ideas and principles of ecological ethics.

In that regard, HP is promoting the awareness of the ecological problems by participating in various partnership programs. In the partnership with World Wildlife Fund, HP intends to set new standards for environmental leadership. The partnership resulted in projects such as The Epicenter for Climate Conservation and Climate Witness, which “focus on analysis, research and data collection in order to reduce HP’s greenhouse gas emissions, improve product energy use, and educate and inspire others to do the same.”(HP, 2009a)

In the previously mentioned partnership with National Christina Foundation, HP uses the donations of unwanted hardware to provide computer technology to people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons. Additionally, partnering with SmartWay, which itself is “a voluntary partnership between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry and is designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions produced during the shipping process” (HP, 2009a), HP uses the logo of SmartWay to indicate the products which were approved by the program.

It should be mentioned that HP was the first company that was approved by the US EPA to display the SmartWay logo on its product packaging, and in 2008 HP received the SmartWay excellence award that indicates HP’s contributions to more sustainable transportation practices.


It can be seen that innovation and leadership are the leading characteristic of HP, where in addition to technology HP was among the first to recognize the importance of environmental sustainability. In that regard, HP has shifted from the ideas of pragmatism to more responsible position. The moral motivation in environmental concerns can be seen as an important factor in developing green products and introducing green initiatives.

The story of HP’s success is more than just a marketing technique, as HP started its recycling programs before the raised interest to ecology, characteristic to this decade. Now most companies are just following the lead, and having a competitive advantage.

Nevertheless, it can be said that business and environmental responsibility are related factors, and the more the company is successful in business, the more responsibility it has for the environment. HP could not prove the aforementioned statement more effectively. Working for decades managing environmental impact and adopting corresponding practices, demonstrated HP’s strive to be responsible in both practices, and in that regard being one of Fortune magazine’s “Ten Green Giants” is confirmation of HP’s right direction. (HP, 2007)


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