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 user 2009-12-14 at 10:36:43 am Views: 90
  • #23338

    THURNAU (GERMANY) — Hewlett-Packard Co. has been thinking green — about how both to lessen its impact on the environment and cut its production costs.To help achieve these dual goals, the US technology bellwether, popularly known as HP, has teamed up with a German company to recycle disposable ink cartridges from HP printers.Once used, the plastic cartridges would otherwise end up in rubbish landfills or incinerators, aggravating the problem of solid waste pollution. Together with its partner Produkte Durch Recycling, HP is trying to set an example for environmental responsibility, and asking its customers to join in the effort.

    Produkte Durch Recycling, which translates as Products Derived from Recycling, or PDR, is one of three recyclers that HP works with worldwide. It handles HP printer cartridges sent for recycling from Europe, the Middle East and Africa; HP has partnered with other companies to recycle cartridges in the Americas and Asia.PDR has already won several awards in Germany for its recycling expertise. On a recent visit to its facility in the south-central German city of Thurnau, this Khaleej Times reporter found that PDR seems to be meeting expectations.

    The firm’s operations take place in a suitably bucolic setting, in a building the size of a warehouse located amid apple orchards and farms a half-hour drive from Thurnau. In an orderly but often noisy process, green-shirted employees work alongside conveyor belts to sort newly arrived cartridges by model type, feed the cartridges into a crusher and then re-sort the pulverised remains.Workers use pallet jacks to shunt boxes of cartridges from the first sorting station to the crushing machine, which spits out a psychedelic stream of particles, powders and other residue. PDR staff members shout to be heard above the din, but the noise is bearable.

    A separate unit the size and shape of a space capsule even bleeds unused ink from each cartridge.Employees package all the leftover plastics, metals and resins and bottle the unused printer ink. PDR then ships the materials elsewhere to be used in the manufacture of new cartridges.It’s all part of what HP calls its “Closed-Loop” Inkjet Plastics Recycling scheme. Every step in the process is designed to meet hugh standards of environment awareness and cost-efficiency. But the system depends on individual, green-minded customers who deliver their used cartridges to local HP dealers, which then feed the junk into the company’s international recycling loop.

    HP began recycling electronics back in 1987. It officially launched its HP Planet Partners recycling programme for printer cartridges in 1991. Since then, the Palo Alto, California-based company says it has recycled more than 300 million inkjet and LaserJet printer cartridges.

    HP Planet Partners tries to make it easy for customers in more than 50 countries to recycle printer cartridges and other IT equipment. In 2007, HP achieved its goal of recycling one billion pounds of equipment and cartridges, and the company aims to double that amount by 2010.

    HP hopes its sense of environmental responsibility rubs off on more off its customers.
    “The results are outstanding,” said Bruno Zago, HP’s environmental manager for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. “Since 1992, HP has reduced the number of parts in each LaserJet cartridge by 33 per cent, and the types of plastic resins used by half.”

    The Europe, Middle East and Africa region is HP’s smallest territory, accounting for $5 billion in annual sales, but it’s growing fast. The Americas account for $9 billion in sales, while the Asia-Pacific region tops the list with $38 billion.HP delivers 110,000 printers, 75,000 personal systems and 3,500 servers daily, so the challenge it faces in trying to reduce the environmental impact from all these products is huge. It seeks, therefore, to design its products, tools and services so that they use less energy and conserve scarce resources, and it encourages their reuse and recycling.HP has identified four areas — energy efficiency, resource conservation, reuse and recycling, and green alternatives — that it believes to be most important to its customers and where it can make the biggest positive impact.