HP has recycled half a billion pounds of eWaste in three years, and plans to recycle another billion by the end of 2010 - but is the figure just be a measure of the size of HP's ink cartridge mountain?
In 2004 HP found it had recycled 500 million pounds of eWaste and set itself a target of a billion pounds recycled by the end of 2007. It has met that target six months into June, 2007. The new target doubles its annual recovery rate to over 33 million pounds. (One billion pounds is 453,514 tonnes).
HP’s recycling efforts led to Fortune Magazine calling it one of Ten Green Giants in April this year.
Fortune wrote: 'HP owns massive e-waste recycling plants, where enormous shredders and granulators reduce four million pounds of computer detritus each month to bite-sized chunks - the first step in reclaiming not just steel and plastic but also toxic chemicals like mercury and even some precious metals. HP will take back any brand of equipment; its own machines are 100 percent recyclable. It has promised to cut energy consumption by 20 percent by 2010. HP also audits its top suppliers for eco-friendliness, and its omnibus Global Citizenship Report sets the standard for detailed environmental accountability.'
With these facts under its belt, HP rubbishes IBM's recycling record, claiming that, in 2006, HP recycled 187 million pounds record of eWaste, 73 percent more than IBM. (It might just be that HP customers throw away HP kits 73 percent faster than IBM customers throw their IBM gear away though.)
The HP eWaste is composed of computer electronics and printer cartridges. Plastics and metals recovered from products recycled by HP have been used to make a range of new products, including auto body parts, clothes hangers, plastic toys, fence posts, serving trays and roof tiles.
HP offers a variety of product end-of-life management services as well as recycling, including donation, trade-in, asset recovery and leasing.
Mark Hurd, HP's CEO and chairman, said: "We’ve reached the tipping point where the price and performance of IT are no longer compromised by being green, but are now enhanced by it.”
HP has just rated one of its desktop PCs as meeting the US government-backed rating agency EPEAT's gold standard. This is the highest level reachable and says the product is exceptionally environmentally friendly from a re-use, recycling and hazardous substance point of view. Dell has two desktop PCs and two notebook PCs rated gold.
Absolute amounts of recycled eWaste are not that useful for comparing different IT companies' recyling rates. For example, HP recycles printer cartridges whereas other IT suppliers do not have a printer media business anywhere near the size of HP's. A better measure for comparing different IT suppliers' recycling efficiency would be the percentage of their production that is recycled. Those figures are not available.