HP Planet Partners scheme takes old printer equipment and gives it a new life through its closed loop recycling programme. Here’s how it works.
Durable and resilient, plastic has become integral to our everyday lives. Its flexibility and cost-effectiveness make it a vital resource, but plastic products put a strain on the environment, sitting in landfills for hundreds of years before they finally start to degrade. We are producing nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic every year – far more than we can possibly recycle. There’s no quick fix for our plastic problem; individuals, governments and corporations can all play their part when it comes to recycling but there needs to be a sustained commitment to the environment.
HP is one business that has embraced a long-term approach to corporate social responsibility. The technology company’s desire to create a sustainable legacy has been evident for more than 30 years. HP started remarketing used equipment in 1981 and recycling in 1987 before cementing its green obligation by establishing Planet Partners in 1991. The programme allows any used HP ink cartridge, HP LaserJet toner cartridges or Samsung toner cartridge to be sent back and recycled for free. HP ensures that returned products are recycled properly through state-of-the-art facilities, and no cartridges are ever refilled, resold or sent to a landfill.
The Planet Partners scheme is available in 70 countries and territories worldwide, and open to everyone from home office users and small businesses to large corporations. For smaller companies, old cartridges can be taken along to drop-off locations, while larger customers can apply online for a bulk collection service that allows them to return up to 2,000 HP ink cartridges and 300 HP LaserJet toner cartridges in one go.
Typically, ink cartridge plastic is made from glass-filled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This is designed for durability and performance but has the drawback of using virgin materials sourced from nature. However, HP manufactures PET from post-consumer plastics for its ink cartridges, and mixes recovered plastics, such as plastic bottles or hangers, with virgin high impact polystyrene to produce new toner cartridges. These meet the same performance levels as PET cartridges but without putting as big a burden on natural resources. This is all part of HP’s “closed loop” process, which has led to 75% of its ink cartridges and 24% of LaserJet toner cartridges being made from recycled plastic. Not only that, but every single Original HP toner cartridge produced contains recycled content.
To date, HP has produced 3 billion new print cartridges using 682 million recycled HP cartridges, 3.3 billion recycled plastic bottles and 50 million hangers. In fact, if all the HP ink and toner cartridges recycled through Planet Partners were laid end-to-end along the equator, they would circle the Earth three times. This has led to a tangible, positive effect on the environment: over the course of a year, using recycled plastics instead of virgin plastics resulted in a 33% reduction in a cartridge’s carbon footprint, a 54% reduction in fossil fuel consumption and the use of 75% less water.
Friends Life, a UK financial services group, is an example of a business that’s benefited from Planet Partners. Its use of low-quality cartridges was leading to printing downtime and an inefficient use of resources – Friends Life sought a solution that would improve printing reliability and reduce its impact on the environment. Since enrolling in Planet Partners, the group has a more stable printing offering and has been able to meet its environmental objectives. Consequently, Friends Life now uses HP Original Supplies for all its stationery requirements.
“Our move to using only HP Original Supplies is an important step in our supplies programme which aims to reinforce our corporate commitment to the environment,” said Dawn Dew, contracts manager for Friends Life. “Compared to remanufactured toner cartridges, the HP products are more reliable, last longer and cause far fewer problems.”
Every single piece of IT hardware will eventually reach the end of its usable life, and finding a way to dispose of it safely and responsibly needn’t be an inconvenience. With HP’s Planet Partners programme, a business can be safe in the knowledge that its old equipment will be recycled responsibly and won’t see any of its private data put at risk. HP also provides more green solutions worldwide than any other company, and to date it has recycled nearly 500,000 tonnes of print cartridges and hardware. Investing in HP also means investing in the environment – through Planet Partners, HP and its customers have provided a strong blueprint for how to address sustainability going forward.