- Create an efficient recycling framework that involves all stakeholders
- Leverage the expertise and innovation of the private sector to achieve environmental goals at the lowest possible cost
- Provide opportunities for environmental and cost improvements over time
- Avoid new government or quasi-government bureaucracies
- Avoid new taxes or fees
- Apply legislation fairly at the local, national and regional level
- Provide the flexibility needed to accommodate different business models
Due to rapidly changing technology, home and business electronics are frequently being replaced with the most cutting-edge machines, creating a growing amount of used or no longer wanted electronics globally. These electronics contain valuable materials and some materials of concern that can easily be recycled and disposed of safely. Currently, only a small percentage of electronics are recycled and public awareness of the issue is limited. However, legislation on electronics recycling is being developed and implemented rapidly in many countries around the world.
HP advocates legislation based on a shared responsibility model that emphasizes product stewardship. A product stewardship solution for the recycling of IT products will leverage the expertise and innovation of the private sector to achieve environmentally sound management of discarded IT products at the lowest possible cost, while minimizing the role and burden on government. The goals of a product stewardship approach include the following:
- Create an efficient recycling framework that involves all stakeholders;
- Leverage the expertise and innovation of the private sector to achieve environmental goals at the lowest possible cost;
- Provide opportunities for environmental and cost improvements over time;
- Avoid new government or quasi-government bureaucracies;
- Avoid new taxes or fees;
- Apply legislation fairly at the local, national and regional level;
- Provide the flexibility needed to accommodate different business models.
The development and implementation of a product stewardship solution is the shared responsibility of governments, manufacturers, retailers, consumers, recyclers and other stakeholders associated with the ownership and use of IT products.
A product stewardship solution should be inclusive and equitable, supported by regulatory mechanisms that mandate participation by all stakeholders and supported by clear enforcement initiatives and incentives that ensure compliance.
HP advocates that governments assist in educating consumers on the benefits of electronics recycling, and work with international bodies to establish appropriate standards and measures to ensure environmentally sound outcomes.
By giving product manufacturers the responsibility to manage used products, and by providing them with the flexibility to implement this responsibility, companies can achieve environmental goals in the most cost effective manner. Manufacturers could implement programs individually or in partnership with retailers, charities, the waste collection and recycling industries, local governments, or others of their choosing. This flexibility will enable private sector expertise and competition to be incorporated into the system. Many government bodies around the world have adopted variations of this approach.
This system is superior to alternative proposals based on a point-of-sale fee. Fee-based recycling programs implemented by government or quasi-government entities may, at first glance, appear attractive, but have several shortcomings:
- Lack of incentive to design more environmentally friendly products
- New taxes on customers that unnecessarily raise product prices
- Creation of new government organizations with high administrative costs
- Little or no incentives or controls for reducing costs over time
- Potential for recycling fees to be diverted for other government function.
The European Union’s Directive for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is currently being introduced into national law to mandate the proper recycling of electronic hardware. Anticipating the need for a competitive, effective, pan-European recycling market, HP established the European Recycling Platform (ERP) with Braun, Electrolux and Sony in 2004. The ERP sets standards and contract conditions and conducts audits to ensure conditions are applied properly. The ERP is currently operating in several countries across Europe.
In July 2005, HP Australia launched a free computer recycling pilot in the state of Victoria. The project, known as Byteback, was officially opened by the Minister for Environment, John Thwaites. It aims to divert end-of-life computer equipment from landfills to environmentally responsible recycling. All metal, plastic and components are recovered and recycled, and any components requiring special treatment are handled appropriately. In the first four months, Byteback collected 78 tons of computer equipment for recycling. Minister Thwaites commended HP for its leadership: “Hewlett-Packard has shown other manufacturers of computer equipment that they can take action to provide cost-effective avenues for responsible disposal for the benefit of the public and the environment.”
In China, HP joined forces with two non-governmental organizations – Global Village of Beijing and the Jane Goodall Institute (Roots and Shoots Shanghai and Beijing) – in a print cartridge recycling program called “Cartridges for Dragon Recycling.” The initiative, launched in 2005, provides communities in Beijing and Shanghai a simple, convenient and environmentally responsible way to return end-of-life printer cartridges free of charge. The program aims to prevent inappropriate disposal that may have an impact on the environment.
In Korea, HP supports the Ministry of Environment on the Voluntary Agreement for Producer Recycling Toner Cartridges to manage discarded products in a more environmentally responsible way and ensure proper recycling. As the winner of the 2006 Environment-Friendly Management Award in the office equipment product area from the Korea Economic Daily with supervision by Open Management Research, HP in Korea advocates to take the responsibility to manage used products through product stewardship.
In Japan, a law aiming for more efficient use of resources went into effect. The recycling of used PCs discarded from households came into effect in 2003, and the recycling of used PCs discarded from businesses became effective earlier in 2001. However, the differentiation between households and businesses has given rise to confusion. Also, the Japanese government and the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) began a project aimed at improving the collection rate of ink cartridges. As of now, this project is voluntary, but could become mandatory in the near future. HPJ is considering joining a committee related to this project.
The Unites States is at a critical point in establishing federal and state legislation that may impact other regions of the world. While federal legislation is not expected in the near-term, proposals are currently under consideration by the U.S. Congress. Simultaneously, a patchwork of state laws is being established as states enact differing variations of e-recycling legislation on their own terms. Federal legislation will likely be based on existing state legislation.
HP recycled more than 164 million pounds (74 million kilograms) of hardware and HP print cartridges globally in its 2006 fiscal year – an increase of 16 percent over the previous year and the equivalent weight of more than 600 jumbo jet airliners.