Recycling hi-tech goods

Hewlett-Packard has announced a service that allows consumers and businesses to recycle unwanted computers and equipment from any manufacturer without adding to landfill sites.

The service is said to be part of HP’s Planet Partners Program, which includes a broad range of environmental and recycling initiatives. Accessed via the Web at www.hp.com/go/recycle, the service created by HP includes pickup, transportation, evaluation for reuse or donation, and environmentally sound recycling for products ranging from PCs and printers to servers and scanners.

All computer equipment received will first be evaluated for reuse. Functioning products will be donated to charitable organisations that accept used equipment or will enter into other channels for reuse. The remaining equipment will be recycled through a process designed to maximise product re-use and material recovery.

‘This Planet Partners take-back program is a reflection of HP’s heritage of social responsibility,’ said Renée St. Denis, manager, HP Environmental Business Unit. ‘We’re giving people an easy-to-use, environmentally sound option for disposing of their used computer electronics equipment.’

The computer products take-back service is a response to a growing trend. According to the National Safety Council, the number of PCs that are deemed obsolete in 2002 will exceed the number of new PCs shipped.

PCs are only one category of the vast quantity of computer products that are replaced or become obsolete every year, yet there are few environmentally sound options for consumers and businesses to recycle unneeded equipment.

To address the issue, HP selected Micro Metallics Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Noranda Inc, a Canadian mining and metals company, to work with HP to develop a one-of-a-kind process that evaluates in-coming equipment, re-deploys working equipment, extracts parts that can be re-used and recycles remaining products and components.

The $4 million processing line includes specially designed shredders to grind equipment into pieces the size of a quarter. From there, a series of separators and magnets pull out the component metals and plastics for recycling.

Together, HP and Noranda manage and operate the facility where the recycling process takes place. This facility currently processes up to 4 million pounds a month of used equipment from HP and other corporate customers’ facilities.

HP and Noranda are planning to open a similar facility in July.

A similar take-back service will be offered in major European countries beginning June 1 and in Canada later this year. Programs will also be developed in Latin America and Asia in response to customer needs.

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