HP calls on IT industry to clean up electronics recycling

HP calls on IT industry to clean up electronics recycling

Company's blog post includes link to its recycling vendors.

March 22, 2017
Recycling Today Staff

In an HP Newsroom blog post by Sarah Murry, HP newsroom managing editor, dated March 3, 2017, HP says it is “deepening” its commitment to the responsible processing of end-of-life electronics by disclosing the names and locations of its recycling vendors.

The post begins: “When U.S. consumers drop off their old electronics at local e-waste centers for recycling, most assume their aging gadgets will be safely dismantled and have their components either scrapped or reused. But that’s not always the case, according to Basel Action Network (BAN), an environmental nonprofit.”

The post goes on to say that, according to Seattle-based BAN, the minimal oversight of downstream processing operations in the developing work can lead to “unsafe labor and environmental conditions,” which could have a “devastating impact on the countries receiving electronics recyclables.” The HP post adds that the “ostensibly well-intended act of recycling has the potential to harm workers, their communities and the environment. BAN suggests that greater transparency in electronics recycling supply chains is one way companies could help.”

HP says that by “bringing transparency to its electronics recycling supply chain” through the disclosure of its recycling vendors, the company “seeks to inspire other tech companies, retailers and distributors to follow suit as well as to acknowledge the work of recycling partners to meet HP’s high expectations.” The company adds that this “transparency also helps HP’s customers feel confident their end-of-life equipment is adequately treated to ensure data and privacy protection.”

The list of HP’s recycling vendors can be accessed here.

The post quotes Annukka Dickens, HP director of human rights and supply chain responsibility, as saying, “HP is disclosing its recycling partners to raise the bar for transparency in our industry and to highlight the high standards we set for those vendors. We challenge other companies in and outside of the high-tech industry to follow our lead and disclose recycler vendor standards and performance, as well as the list of recycling vendors they employ globally.”

HP says a key part of its circular economy strategy is “responsible recycling of used electronics, which encompasses industry-leading recycling and reuse standards, a robust recycler audit program and close engagement with recycling partners.”

The company says it is “reducing resource consumption by reinventing product design to extend the life of our products, shifting to service models and transforming how whole industries design, make and distribute products through disruptive technologies, such as 3D printing.”

According to HP, the company has recaptured and recycled more than 3.3 billion pounds of computer and printing hardware and 682 million ink and toner cartridges since 1987.

Through the 25-year-old HP Planet Partners program, HP offers takeback and recycling programs for used electronics and printing supplies in more than 70 countries and territories.

Its recycling vendor management process, HP says, requires all vendors “to execute environmentally responsible processing techniques, comply with relevant government regulations and achieve additional commitments like ethical labor practices and conformance to the Basel Convention, which limits shipment of nonfunctional electronics between countries.”

Vendors also must attain third-party certification (such as e-Stewards, R2 [Responsible Recycling] or WEEELABEX, where applicable) and submit to regular audits, according to the company.

In 2015, HP says it conducted audits at 58 facilities in 20 countries, including audits following up on earlier findings and confirming ongoing responsible practices and improved performance.

Additional information on HP’s recycling resources can be found here