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Getting rid of Europe's e-waste

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Picture of a european vineyard with words 'Environmental sustainability is a key element of HP's long-standing commitment to global citizenship'

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Making it work
Making it easy
Design for environment

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EU WEEE Directive
European Recycling Platform
Design for environment
HP Planet Partners printing supplies and return and recycling programme
Hardware return and recycling

Starting this year, there will be a lot less e-waste in Europe.

Electronic waste consists of washing machines, TVs, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, mobile phones and, of course, computers. The average person in the UK, for example, will throw away over 3 tonnes in a lifetime (1).

Photo of used computer hardware

HP has participated in all stages of a legislative process to launch a new European Union directive called WEEE — Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment — that mandates the collection and recycling of e-waste (2).

The WEEE directive has a clear principle, based on Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR). Each producer is responsible for their own products shipped after August 2005.

"Environmental sustainability is a key element of HP's long-standing commitment to global citizenship and a basis for our long-term business success," said Klaus Hieronymi, General Manager, Environmental Business Management Organization, HP EMEA.

Each month, HP's recycling centers around the world already process about 1.8 million kilograms of computer-related hardware. HP has set a target to recycle half a billion kilos of electronic products and printing supplies by 2007.


Making it work

In partnership with local authorities and industry associations, HP is ensuring that WEEE works in practice as well as on paper. This means creating a new competitive recycling industry, whether at country or pan-European level, to ensure the lowest costs.

Pilot projects undertaken by HP have served as a trial run for WEEE legislation. In Reutlingen (pop. 110,016) Germany, a project by HP and local authorities showed that people are eager to recycle IT equipment when given a chance.

"Today, consumers are approaching us to recycle their computers but in the future, thanks to WEEE legislation, they will be able to dispose of it at the local municipality waste site," explains Klaus Hieronymi.

Joining forces with Sony Europe, Braun and Electrolux, HP has also created ERP (European Recycling Platform) — a common platform for recycling electrical and electronic waste at a pan-European level. The ERP was formed to ensure that competition will be used to increase the quality of recycling and to lower the customer's cost.

Other companies such as Samsung, Logitech and Remington are now participating in the effort to address the e-waste challenge on a European basis rather than seeking national solutions.


Making it easy

Every HP customer will have a role to play in protecting the environment.

Consumers will be able to simply return HP equipment to municipal collection points and it will be delivered to an approved facility for re-use, recovery and recycling. Companies like HP must finance this recycling, putting the responsibility for the product's 'end-of-life' squarely with the producer.

HP will provide free recycling of all electronic equipment for commercial customers once they have returned the equipment to a designated HP collection point. HP anticipates that take-back and recycling requirements will form an integral part of future commercial business relationships.

"We know that our customers want to participate in our recycling program — 'how do I recycle' is the most frequent environmental question received by HP," said Zoe McMahon, Environmental Strategies and Sustainability Manager, HP EMEA.


Design for environment

HP believes IPR is the best way to promote eco-design in products. HP's Design for the Environment program is reducing the ecological footprint of HP products in all stages of their design, manufacture, use and end-of-life.

Each line of HP computing and imaging products are designed to offer better performance than previous models, to use less energy and fewer materials — for example, two kinds of plastic instead of fifteen.

Instead of using glues and adhesives, HP designs many of its products to snap together mechanically and, in some HP scanners, mercury lamps have been replaced by the 'Contact Image Sensor' technology.

HP has developed an HP Scanjet scanner component made from 25 percent recycled inkjet cartridge plastic and 75 percent recycled plastic bottles, while meeting all part and product specifications and requirements.

HP continues to minimize the use of non-recyclable materials in its print cartridge products and packaging. Since 1992 HP has reduced the average number of parts used in monochrome HP LaserJet print cartridges by 25 percent, improving their recyclability.

"The environmental impact of a product is largely determined at design stage, so successful recycling requires innovation," explained Klaus Hieronymi.

(1)  The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (www.rsa.org).
(2)  Printing supplies including LaserJet print cartridges and inkjet print cartridges (unless contained in the printer at the time the printer is discarded), are not covered by the WEEE Directive.
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