HP’s PC chief explains why sustainable PCs matter in a pandemic

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HP’s PC chief explains why sustainable PCs matter in a pandemic

In May, HP claimed that it now offered the “most sustainable” PC portfolio. Alex Cho, the president of its Personal Systems Group, spoke with PCWorld’s Mark Hachman to explain why sustainability, materials, and saving power is important even during a pandemic and high unemployment. Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for space and clarity.

PCW: HP claims that it offers the most sustainable PC portfolio. I would ask: Why now? Why should people care, when so much else is going on in their lives?

Cho: Within personal systems, it’s been particularly important for us. Because it’s not a one-hit wonder. It’s not with one generation. We have been working on this across our portfolio of PCs, all of the accessories and displays, as well as thinking about how it relates to our service business and our thinking about packaging.

alex cho hp HP

HP’s Alex Cho.

I would set the context that this is a journey for us. And then fast-forward to where we are today in a world of COVID. Everyone is working through it. We don’t think that it should pause the importance of thinking about the impact that we make, as we are designing solutions.

Sustainability is about three pillars. We’ve talked about people, planet, community—so we don’t just think about the product. And there has never has been a better time for people to recognize that the world is more connected than not.

PCW: Let’s define what sustainability means as far as a PC is concerned. What is it?

Cho: It includes the product itself—the type of impact that it makes, whether it’s focused on enabling more use of more post-consumer recycled plastics. We think about greenhouse-gas emissions, we think about not just the product, but the process that that was used to make it as well as the packaging. We do roughly 16 million PCs alone a year, and so packaging is very important, and so we think about single-use plastic packaging. That’s kind of the planet side of this topic.

We also care a lot about communities. Focusing on education around the world is very important because we don’t want to just create something, we want to help it solve problems, and help them to be used for learning. So that’s another way. Again, for us, it’s holistic.

PCW: Can you give me a sense for how much HP itself contributes, versus your suppliers?  HP takes motherboards and components and assembles them together inside of an HP-branded chassis. So how much of this is HP’s responsibility?

Cho: We actually think it’s very much HP’s responsibility, but also something that the value chain participates in. But what do we do that is uniquely ours? The packaging is a decision that we make in the structural material compositions. We announced the world’s first use of ocean-bound plastics, whether might be our Elite Dragonfly notebook, or the use of ocean-bound plastics in the first display that uses them. And that’s a choice that we make on materials. Now we have them in our workstations. So that’s definitely decisions and levers that we own in the process.

hp elite dragonfly 8 Gordon Mah Ung

HP’s Elite Dragonfly.

When I talk about greenhouse gas emissions, you know, a lot of this is around decisions that we make on the amount of power consumption and energy efficiencies that we architect into it. By the way, in a time of COVID, where you are computing more, you want longer battery life and you want more efficient performance.

PCW: I want to talk about those more in a bit. But let’s just focus on packaging for a second. How has packaging evolved from, say, 10 years ago?

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