The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) introduced the concept of voluntary 'sustainability compacts' a couple of years ago - an agreement between business and goverment for leading change around environmental issues...and HP was ahead of the pack back in 2005.In the IT industry HP have already signed up for the voluntary agreement (in fact they did it over 2 years ago). And outside IT specifically, Insurance Australia Group (IAG) and Sensis have also signed up. So what exactly have they signed up for?
Essentially HP agreed to a 3 year term to work with the NSW government, goaling towards a future-proofed HP. This includes HP's overall practices (operations, facilities and supply chain) in relation to environmental sustainability, with a focus on:
- strategic sustainability planning
- training and project delivery
- product stewardship
- promoting environmentally sustainable purchasing to government, business and consumers
- environmental auditing and staff education & training
- improving environmental performance of HP overall, e.g. in resource use, watse avoidance etc
What this essentially means is that HP have been able to influence and set standards for the rest of the IT industry. In return, DECC agree to help with areas such as:
- facilitating partnerships with NGOs and other organisations for community and stakeholder involvement (NB: VERY important for overall business strategy)
- broad publication, promotion and PR for HP initiatives
- joint partnerships in further promoting environmental improvements for the IT sector
- help influencing sustainable supplier procurement across the IT industry
As you can see there is a strong balance of required input by HP (i.e. its not just 'a sit back and see what happens' agreement), but just as significant is the output from the government arm - the sustainability compacts essentially provide businesses like HP with with a framework and support for their environmental initiatives, thus also boosting their overall PR image and media coverage. However just an importantly from a business perspective, there is a broader public committment for sustainability leadership enabling them to influence and advise government on environmental issues affecting their business.
HP have been a leader in this space, where other IT companies have followed. The HP-DECC agreement ends in October 2008 - as such it will be interesting to see if they re-sign for another 3 or 5 years. Given the the current, almost manic focus on 'Green IT' it would be strange to see them stop now...
Regardless of HP's agreement-continuity decision, now is the prime time for other Australian IT businesses to get on board, show leadership and sign up for such an agreement. Not only will the government help them plan their environmental sustainability initiatives, but once again the commitment required for such an agreement shows it is not just PR for the sake if it - it's real for both business and the environment. A truly admirable goal.
New South Wales Government 2008, Sustainability Compacts, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/sustainbus/sustaincompacts.htm
Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005, Sustainability Compact between Hewlett-Packard Australia Pty Ltd and the Department of Environment and Conservation NSW, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/sustainbus/hpcomp2005606.pdf