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 user 2009-09-29 at 11:33:18 am Views: 84
  • #22723
    California’s ‘green’ ink-cartridge recycling fails to cut pollution, or costs
    paper, the recycling program was touted as a bold step toward
    California’s green, climate-friendly future.A mountain of plastic and
    metal would be diverted from landfills. Greenhouse gas emissions would
    tumble. And one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s climate change goals –
    trimming power use in state buildings by 20 percent – would nudge
    closer to reality as agencies snapped up new, more efficient office
    printers.That is what state and Hewlett-Packard officials said last
    year when they joined forces to ship used HP printer ink cartridges
    from state offices to Virginia to be ground up and recycled into auto
    parts, serving trays, clothes hangers and other products.But a Bee
    investigation, based on more than 100 pages of e-mails and other
    records, has found that 17 months after it was created, the program has
    delivered few if any of its promised climate benefits.

    from the start it ran into opposition from the state’s purchasing
    specialists at the Department of General Services, who were not
    consulted about it and who – once they started asking questions –
    turned up other concerns, including allegations of unfair competition
    and ink waste.They also favored reusing cartridges by refilling them at
    local businesses, a process known as remanufacturing.”It is to HP’s
    advantage to get as many remanufacturable cartridges off the market as
    possible,” Robert Tetz, manager of the department’s environmentally
    preferable purchasing program, said in an e-mail to his boss last year.
    “I don’t believe that this partnership arrangement passes the smell

    The recycling plan is one of many purportedly eco-friendly initiatives launched in California
    state that portrays itself as a green-minded model for the world. But
    Scot Case, who investigates green marketing claims, said the state HP
    plan is the wrong choice for the environment.”It is completely
    ridiculous to ship a product from California to Virginia to be reground
    when you could refill those cartridges in California and reuse them,”
    said Case, vice president of TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, which
    places the green “EcoLogo” label on thousands of consumer products –
    but not on new printer cartridges.”You would use fewer resources,” Case
    said. “And you would create significantly less global warming
    impacts.”For their part, most DGS employees are not free to speak to
    The Bee. “We have a policy that we have high-level spokespeople …
    respond to questions,” said Jeffrey Young, the agency’s deputy director
    of public affairs.And Tetz, the green purchasing manager, has been
    ordered to clam up. “Bob, per my voicemail, I need you to stand down on
    any communication with Mr. Knudson. Call me …” Jim Butler, DGS’ chief
    procurement officer, said in an e-mail.

    But their views come through clearly in electronic correspondence.
    bottom line is that it is environmentally preferable and fiscally
    prudent to buy remanufactured toner cartridges for state laser printers
    from California small businesses,” wrote Ben Martin, an engineering
    branch manager at DGS, in an e-mail to a colleague.

    Targeting a river of waste
    cartridges are a mainstay of the modern office – and a vexing waste
    problem. One 2007 industry report estimated 46 percent of the larger
    kind, known as laser jet cartridges, and 84 percent of the smaller
    inkjet cartridges are dumped in landfills after one use. A follow-up
    study, commissioned by HP, found 34 percent of the company’s laser jet
    cartridges and 78 percent of its inkjets end up in landfills after one
    use.The state-HP recycling effort was aimed at shrinking that river of
    waste by diverting up to 100 tons of spent state cartridges from
    landfills every year. But state and HP officials said it would have an
    additional benefit, striking a blow against climate change by curbing
    greenhouse gas emissions by 500 tons annually.Here’s how it was
    supposed to work: For every HP cartridge purchased and recycled, state
    agencies would earn points toward buying new, more energy-efficient HP
    printers. Top officials said that would trim power use and slice