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6/24/2019 | 3 MINUTE READ

HP Talks New Recycled Content Plastics Goal & Sustainability in 3D Printing

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Nate Hurst, chief sustainable impact officer for HP, discusses the company’s goal to increase recycled content plastic to 30% by 2025 across its print and personal systems portfolio and also sustainable innovations in 3D printing. 

HP continues to expand initiatives in recycling as the company recently announced a new commitment to increase recycled content plastics across its print and personal systems portfolio to 30% by 2025. The company’s 2018 Sustainable Impact Report documents the progress HP is making and the business benefits of investing in these key areas. Sustainable Impact programs drove more than $972 million dollars of new revenue for HP in 2018, a 35% year-over-year increase.

In 2018, HP used 21,250 tonnes of recycled plastic in HP products – including more than 8,000 tonnes in its personal systems products (a 3.5% increase from 2017), more than 4,700 tonnes in its printing products (a 280% increase from 2017) and more than 8,000 tonnes in Original HP ink and toner cartridges.

“We have what we call a ‘circular economy’ strategy where we are thinking about how our products are delivered and how we can reclaim, reuse and recycle as much as we can,” says Nate Hurst, chief sustainable impact officer for HP. 

Through the end of 2018, HP achieved 7% post-consumer recycled content plastic use in HP personal systems and print products. 

So how will the company go from 7% to 30% by 2025? Hurt says while they know it’s ambitious, it all revolves around a mindset of designing for the environment.

“We based the goal on stretching 7% to 30% so the engineers know what to rally around and to innovate for it,” he says. 

For instance, a key example of increasing the use of recycled plastics is the company’s HP Tango Printer line, which now contains 30% closed-loop recycled plastics (reusing plastic from a previous printer to make a new printer), which a couple years ago it was at 20%. 

Ocean-Bound Plastic 

As part of this commitment, HP continues to invest in and scale its impact sourcing initiative to prevent post-consumer plastic from entering our waterways and oceans. HP has already sourced approximately 700,000 pounds of ocean-bound plastic materials—or more than 25 million bottles—upcycling this material into HP cartridges and hardware. This year, HP launched the EliteDisplay E273d – the world’s first display manufactured with ocean plastic. Together with its partners, including NextWave Plastics, HP is committed to scaling the use of ocean-bound plastics by developing the first global network of ocean-bound plastics supply chains. 

In partnership with Dr. Jenna Jambeck and Dr. Chris Cuomo from the University of Georgia, HP is sponsoring research on women’s crucial work in recycling and managing waste, specifically ocean-bound plastics. This research is underway now and is scheduled to be released by early 2020.

Sustainable 3D Printing 

HP is working on incorporating sustainability in 3D printing, such as helping to reduce the amount of materials used, shortening and simplifying traditional supply chains, better matching of supply and demand, as well as improving service options that can prolong the life of products.

“When we look at the past other big revolutions, what was often good for business was not necessarily for the environment,” Hurts says. “We are delivering, and frankly, helping to change the way manufacturing for this 4th Industrial Revolution is done and that includes accelerating sustainable benefits of 3D printing.” 

In 2019, HP expanded its recycling program to include 3D consumables, such as Original HP agent printheads and cartridges.

HP Jet Fusion 3D printers enable surplus material reusability of up to 80%. The thermoplastic materials used in its printers also offer potential for recycling of printed parts as the technology scales. 

HP also announced a partnership with SmileDirectClub, a provider of doctor-directed, remote clear aligner therapy. SmileDirectClub is powering its digital differentiation and rapid manufacturing expansion of clear aligners with HP’s Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions, making it the largest producer of Multi Jet Fusion 3D printed parts in the country. As part of an expanded collaboration, HP and SmileDirectClub also announced a new recycling program, in which excess 3D material and already processed plastic mouth molds are recycled by HP and turned into pellets for traditional injection molding, leading to more sustainable production.

“When you think about scaling that initiative to bigger parts and more parts, you truly can have a sustainable revolution,” Hurst says. “How quickly technology can scale will have a huge positive impact.”