RETIREE LEAVES XEROX A CLEANER PLACE
RETIREE LEAVES XEROX A CLEANER PLACE
2005-04-14 at 10:30:00 am #8852Retiring Azar leaves Xerox a cleaner place
(April 2005)—In 1966,fresh out of Columbia University with a doctorate in
chemistry, Jack Azar looked around for a job. He had five offers, the highest
from Xerox Corp.: a princely $10,900 a year.
His first problem wasn’t technical, but was “trying to figure out how to
spend all that money,” said Azar, who as a married graduate student had lived in
Manhattan on $3,500 a year.
The mid-1960s were “the heyday at Xerox, ” he said, remembering the day he
arrived in Webster with 15 other scientists. “We were growing so
Last week, the 63-year-old stepped down from his position as Xerox
vice president of environment, health and safety. His legacy: a corporate
program recognized worldwide for its waste-free factories.
Taking over is Patricia A. Calkins, 48, who joined Xerox in 1993 as a manager
of resource conservation.
“Jack was one of the reasons I came to Xerox,”
said the Massachusetts native. “I never stop marveling at his endless bank of
enthusiasm. It’s infectious.”
Azar is willing to spread his cheer and experience around for another six
months, as an on-site consultant at Xerox.
“It’s a two-in-a-box
philosophy,” he said of the overlap. “My successor is taking over 90 percent of
what I do.”
Before moving to the environment, health and safety side in 1984, Azar spent
18 years in technical development and management, picking up seven U.S. patents
along the way. He helped design new generations of toner, the electrically
charged powder that makes copies possible.
Azar also helped develop hardware to filter ozone and dust from copy machines
— technology that’s still in use today.
That gave Azar special insight in
the early 1990s, when Xerox was the first U.S. corporation to demonstrate the
feasibility of “remanufacturing” goods.
Toner cartridges were the first experiment.
The plastic and metal
devices, with up to 10 percent of the toner still in them, were simply being
thrown out by copy machine customers all over the world.
“The waste was accumulating like crazy,” said Azar. “We had started saying we
were a waste-free company. We had to do something.”
When Xerox declared
its zero-waste ethic in 1991, “people (outside the corporation) thought we were
dreaming,” he said.
After establishing that cartridges could be designed for reuse, from 1991 to
1996, “we turned to the whole (copy) machine,” Azar said.
remanufacturing was stiff, and persists today, especially from procurement
specialists for the U.S. government.
“Everybody thought: ‘This is a used car,’” said Azar. “No, it’s
His role at Xerox turned, in part, to lobbying and education for
corporate remanufacturing, reuse and recycling strategies. It took him all over
“Jack was really at the forefront of this” movement toward remanufacturing,
said 12-year friend Mike Farren, Xerox’s vice president for external and legal
affairs. “He was the critical thinker.”
To every discussion about remanufacturing, he said, Azar brought “global
thinking” and a rare mix of technical, policy and business acuity.
was the chief Xerox architect of the idea that environmental considerations
should be part of every design, every step on the factory floor and every
The changes in corporate culture “were dramatic,” said Azar, who took the
helm of health, safety and environment in 1997. “We’re now a strategic
The big future challenge at Xerox, said Azar, is finding ways to eliminate
whole classes of hazardous materials from Xerox products by 2006.
future, after October, may include some teaching or lecturing. As for his
corporate accomplishments, he said, “We celebrate Earth Day here every day.“