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 user 2005-06-14 at 11:11:00 am Views: 47
  • #11506
    HP Canada rebuts Greenpeace e-waste

    Vendor says it has
    removed environmentally-unfriendly
    A recent campaign by Greenpeace to draw attention to electronics waste that targeted
    Hewlett Packard as a major offender is being refuted by
    the manufacturer, which says it considers itself

    an industry leader in addressing the problem.

    As the electronics industry has grown so has e-waste, and the ever-shortening
    upgrade and replacement cycle has only exacerbated the problem. According to a
    report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average computer
    lifespan has dropped from six years in 1997 to two years in 2005.

    “It’s the largest amount of waste produced and dumped in landfills around the
    world,” said Zeina Al-Hajj, who is coordinating the e-waste campaign for
    Greenpeace International. “It’s also very toxic and hazardous, and it all seems
    to be ending up in Asia, where it is causing serious environmental and health

    Al-Hajj said the problem is manufactures that are focused on production and
    marketing, without consideration for the toxicity of their products or where
    they end up.

    “We want companies to change their design so their products don’t contain
    hazardous materials and don’t become waste in one or two years but can be
    upgraded and reused and when it does become waste, companies take responsibility
    for it,” says Al-Hajj.

    Greenpeace has been working quietly on the issue for two years, securing
    commitments from Samsung, Sony, Sony Ericsson and Nokia to eliminate toxic
    flame-retardants and PVC plastic from some of their products

    Al-Hajj said HP was targeted in the recent campaign
    which included dumping a truckload of e-waste at HP’s Swiss headquarters in
    Geneva — because talks with HP failed to yield a similar commitment and
    scientific testing conducted for Greenpeace showed HP to be one of the worst

    “HP’s Pavilion computer had the highest level of brominated flame retardant,
    one of the hazardous chemicals that is proven scientifically to cause harm for
    the workers who work in production and for recyclers who work in the scrap
    yards,” said Al-Hajj. “This is one of the hazardous chemicals we’re demanding
    companies eliminate.”

    The public pressure led to a preliminary meeting between Greenpeace and HP,
    and Al-Hajj said negotiations and discussions are ongoing. Their goal is to
    secure a global commitment, down through HP’s supply chain, to be more
    environmentally friendly in its manufacturing and disposal practices.

    “We don’t have a commitment yet, and we’ll keep watching their progress until
    they make one,” said Al-Hajj.

    While they obviously disagree on HP’s role in the problem, both HP and
    Greenpeace share similar views on the problem of e-waste and what needs to be
    done to combat it. Frances Edmonds, manager of recycling, environmental health
    and safety for HP Canada, said HP has eliminated a whole range of substances
    from its products, including cadmium, arsenic, lead and a number of
    flame-retardants. Edmonds also said HP is a strong believer in extended producer

    “We believe very strongly there should be regulation in this area,” says
    Edmonds. “We’re actively working with government to look at e-waste and develop

    She points to HP’s design for the environment program, which rests on three
    pillars: materials innovation, reducing hazardous content and making products
    lighter to ship; energy conservation, both during production and when in use;
    and designing for recycling.

    Recognizing the issue 10 years ago Edmonds said HP partnered with Canada’s
    Noranda Recycling, committing to 100 per cent recycling of its products.
    Consumers can access HP’s suite of recycling services online, including free
    InkJet and LaserJet toner cartridge recycling. HP will also pick up its hardware
    or any hardware at your home or business for recycling, charging only a
    non-profit, cost-recovery fee.

     “We’ve offered this as a stop-gap measure until there are regulations which
    require all manufacturers to do this,” said Edmonds. “Because it’s so expensive
    to do properly it’s very important all manufacturers are required to take
    responsibility for their waste.”

    A number of different models are being implemented and advocated. California
    consumers pay a visible recycling fee when they purchase electronics, while in
    Alberta the fee is built into the price.

    While Edmonds said most of the industry favours the California model, HP
    prefers a system beginning next year in Maine that will see municipalities
    collecting waste and bringing it to a consolidation centre where it is sorted by
    manufacturer. A company like HP can either take its waste to recycle itself, or
    pay the state a fee to recycle its share.

    “We take these issues very seriously and spend a lot of money, not only
    promoting these issues across the industry, but also doing the right thing with
    our waste,” said Edmonds. “We spend top dollar promoting a Cadillac solution for
    all of our waste and anything customers want to send to us as well.”

    A recent report from Gartner Research said vendors are beginning to look more
    seriously at e-waste disposal as more jurisdictions introduce e-waste
    legislation. Estimating it costs US$30 to safely dispose of a PC, costs will be
    an issue and Gartner said a new industry is beginning to grow around this