Treating more of our everyday needs as a service rather than making repeated individual purchases is a growing trend in many sectors now that technology has made it more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly to sell goods this way. Computer programs rarely ship in a box these days — instead, you pay for a subscription that guarantees you the latest bits on your PC. Ditto for your company PC, bicycle and makeup. All are morphing into services.
“We're moving to a service-based economy, and that’s creating incentives for companies to design more efficiently,” says Shelley Zimmer, HP’s environmental leadership program manager.
Slashing costs, energy use and paper waste
HP is driving this trend by offering more of the devices it makes as subscription services. The company’s desktops, notebooks and accessories are part of an expanding portfolio of devices and related gear that organizations are signing up to get as a service rather than having to buy these items and then manage them, keep them up to date and secure and provide customer service. In February, for instance, HP expanded its device-as-a-service offerings to include managing Apple products.
HP Managed Print Services is a prime example of where businesses, like consumers, get a sustainability payoff from device-as-a-service. With HP MPS, rather than owning printers, business customers pay HP for the service of onsite printing.
After studying an organization’s printing habits, HP figures out how many printers employees require, where the devices should be installed in different offices and the best way to manage them. HP often consolidates the number of printers a company has, replacing ones that waste energy or aren’t protected from hacking. Then it programs the new suite to print more efficiently by, for instance, defaulting to printing on both sides of a sheet of paper.
“Once we take ownership of the entire printing environment,” says Zimmer, “we have all the information we need to help that customer save money and energy, plus reduce the amount of paper they're using.”
What kind of savings are we talking about? Printing costs typically fall by 10 percent to 30 percent, paper waste drops by 25 percent and energy use tumbles by 20 percent to 40 percent.2
The closed loop expands
The device-as-a-service model is a critical piece of HP’s global “circular economy” sustainability strategy. As a pioneer of closed-loop manufacturing, HP aims to keep the materials used to make its hardware and printer cartridges in circulation for as long as possible and out of landfills.
HP started with its groundbreaking closed-loop program for recycling the plastic in its printer cartridges to make new HP cartridges. Last year, the company raised the bar for the tech industry by expanding that closed-loop recycling program to hardware products.
Device-as-a-service dovetails with this closed loop. HP Instant Ink ships out postage-paid envelopes with replacement cartridgers for sending back used cartridges, so people with Instant Ink subscriptions are more likely to recycle, says Zimmer. The Instant Ink cartridges contain 50 percent to 75 percent recycled content. That service helps cut the energy used to make cartridges by 86 percent, and water use is slashed by 89 percent.