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1/31/2008
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HP Uses Recycled Plastic In Ink Cartridges

The company used more than 5 million pounds of old plastic last year and plans to use twice as much recycled plastic in cartridges this year.

Hewlett-Packard has developed a process that uses recycled plastic to make cartridges for ink-jet printers.

The company used more than 5 million pounds of old plastic last year in piloting the process that produced more than 200 million cartridges, executives said. HP plans to use twice as much recycled plastic in cartridges this year.

The computer maker's recycling process makes it possible to combine multiple sources and grades of old plastic, whether it's from common water bottles or old ink-jet cartridges. Since first testing the process, HP has recycled enough plastic to fill more than 200 tractor-trailers.

"By developing the technology to use recycled plastics in original HP ink-jet print cartridges, we have the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact HP products have on the planet," Michael Hoffmann, senior VP of HP's supplies, imaging, and printing group, said in a statement released Wednesday.

The amount of recycled content in new ink-jet cartridges ranges from 70% to 100% of the total plastic used, HP said. The company is expected to receive an award for its work from the Society of Plastics Engineers. The trade group is expected to hand out the award at the Global Plastics Environmental Conference in March.

The latest advancement is part of HP's Design for Environment program, which tries to reduce the environmental damage caused by HP cartridges. The company's Planet Partner program for returning and recycling cartridges operates in more than 45 countries, regions, and territories.

Recycling electronics and parts is not an easy process, and a lot more work is needed. Wal-Mart, for example, has set a goal of one day using only renewable energy and creating zero waste. As part of that effort, the retailer is gathering scores on suppliers' environmental efforts to decide which products to stock on shelves.

Among the problem Wal-Mart has faced with electronics is in tracking the separate recycling efforts of each supplier. The company has nearly 61,000 suppliers. In addition, there are no uniform U.S. guidelines that Wal-Mart can use to find methods to recycle the millions of phones, TVs, and computers it sells.

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