Accelerating Sustainable Solutions for African Development

Yesh Surjoodeen, the Southern Africa Managing Director at HP talks about the urgency to accelerate sustainability in Africa.

Yesh Surjoodeen, the Southern Africa Managing Director at HP talks about the urgency to accelerate sustainability in Africa.

As the global economy strains under the weight of growing resource scarcity, a circular model built on the principles of waste reduction, resource efficiency, and sustainability has the potential to reshape industries worldwide. 

For South Africa, a nation grappling with significant waste management issues and a high unemployment rate, the circular economy could offer a lifeline. It presents an opportunity not only to address these challenges but also to stimulate economic growth, foster sustainable development, and create a more resilient future for the country’s citizens. 

Organisations like HP are at the forefront of this transition, with a commitment to full circularity, powered by circular product design and services. Such journeys provide crucial lessons for South African enterprises of all sizes and sectors.

South African consumers, mirroring global trends, are increasingly environmentally conscious. 

Businesses that prioritise sustainability fulfil these expectations while securing long-term environmental and commercial benefits. Although circularity programmes may require initial investment, they can reduce overheads, increase efficiency, and unearth new revenue streams. 

For example, HP collaborated with NGOs in Haiti to establish an ocean-bound plastics recycling programme that supports local workers. These plastics are incorporated into HP products, promoting circularity, and providing income and education opportunities locally. Such programmes could be replicated in South Africa as a means of addressing the rising unemployment rate, which was at 32.9% in the first quarter of 2023. 

Yesh Surjoodeen, Southern Africa Managing Director, HP

Circular products, designed with their entire lifecycle in mind, are key to sustainable practices like these. 

For example, since 2016, HP mandated that all its brand paper comes from recycled or certified sources. This was later extended to paper-based packaging for home and office printers and supplies, PCs, and displays. This approach is particularly relevant to South Africa, where packaging waste contributes significantly to the estimated 107.7 million tons of general waste generated annually.

Energy efficiency and product longevity are other crucial aspects of circularity. HP products are designed with repairability in mind, reducing demand for new raw materials. In South Africa, where affordability and product lifespan are paramount, such practices have a significant impact. For example, closed-loop recycling, a core component of circularity, has seen HP’s Planet Partners programme recycle over 1 billion cartridges worldwide. Part of the HP Planet Partners programme is the recycling initiative through which returning (for free) any used HP Ink and Toner cartridges are recycled by HP.  

Yesh Surjoodeen, Southern Africa Managing Director, HP

The transition to a circular economy in South Africa is hindered by various challenges. The lack of awareness and understanding of the circular economy concept among businesses and consumers is a key obstacle. South African businesses stand to benefit significantly from such collaborative efforts, driving consensus, legislative progress, and the circularity agenda – a move that promises a sustainable and inclusive future for all its citizens.

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