Manufacturing a cleaner option

Some Canadian IT vendors believe responsible recycling should not be a wasted effort.

Taking a strong stance against the exporting of e-waste to Asia is Mississauga, Ont.-based HP Canada Ltd., which has partnered with Noranda Recycling to process the IT hardware maker’s own end-of-life computing products. In addition, HP’s Planet Partners program encourages people to bring obsolete computer products to HP, regardless of the brand, for a fee that covers the cost of recycling.

IT equipment manufacturers like HP are trying to do their part, but admit they can’t do it alone.

“HP stepped up and said to the government, ‘We should be responsible for our waste, we want to take it back.…We just need everybody else to be responsible for their waste, too,’” said Frances Edmonds, director of environmental programs, HP Canada.

Financing end-of-life e-waste management

The Manufacturer’s Coalition for Responsible Recycling (Coalition) is a group of electronics companies believing that Advanced Recovery Fee (ARF) is the best approach to financing management of end-of-life electronics at the state and national levels. Read the white paper

By making it convenient to return old computers for proper recycling, Dell Canada believes it will encourage more people to manage e-waste responsibly. Taking a “no-waste” approach to managing its products through their lifecycles, Dell ensures that old computing equipment coming back to the company is either re-used or recycled responsibly and that “nothing gets exported,” said Frank Fuser, director of services for Toronto-based Dell Canada Inc.

Recently, the company reached a lead-free product goal with the launch of Dell’s OptiPlex GX520 and GX620, which features dual-core processors with lead-free motherboards, power supplies and chassis.

IBM imposes environmental standards requirements for its supply chain, including recycling partners, according to Maureen Rourke, public relations manager for Markham, Ont.-based IBM Canada Ltd.

“IBM has a corporate directive designed to prevent the transfer of responsibility for environmentally sensitive operations to any company lacking the commitment or capability to manage them properly,” Rourke said.

Through its Clean Earth Campaign, printing equipment manufacturer Mississauga, Ont.-based Canon Canada Inc. was able to divert close to two million toner cartridges from Canadian landfills, said Peter Balyk, director for the company’s general and environmental affairs. The campaign began in 1990. Last year Canon successfully recycled 300 tonnes of end-of-life copiers and printers.

“Canon continues to move forward with these initiatives, partnering with government stakeholders and competitors,” Balyk said.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc.‘s policy on e-waste management involves several steps: maintain “complete control and visibility” of obsolete and returned products; ensure that they are refurbished and re-used as much as possible, either internally or by donating them to educational and non-profit organizations worldwide; guarantee proper recycling of products down to the last speck of dust.

“[We have gone] above and beyond what any law requires us to do because we believe, as an organization, it’s the right thing. We’re stewards of the land,” said Josh Garrison, Cisco’s senior operations manager for worldwide returns.

Cisco has implemented a take-back program where customers returning obsolete products would pay for transportation cost, while the company shoulders the recycling expense, Garrison said.

Cisco’s recycling partners play a significant role in its design for the environment program by providing inputs on improving the recyclability of its products – designing the packaging, for instance, so it is easy to de-manufacture and recycle.

Based on these inputs, Cisco implements changes in the total design of products to prevent certain components from ending up in landfills, said Garrison.

As a result, between 98 and 99 per cent of Cisco product components are recycled successfully. Last year, less than two per cent of Cisco products turned over to recyclers ended up in landfills.

Related links:

Schools face old PC disposal dilemma

E-waste recycling options increase

E-waste special main page

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