HP now operate the industry’s first and only closed loop recycling scheme for all their used HP ink cartridges. With the HP Planet Partners initiative both business and home users alike can send their empty cartridges back to HP for zero landfill recycling, the scheme is widely available in 50 countries around the world.
So what is a 'Closed Loop Recycling Scheme' and what are the Pro's and Con's?
As you can see from the diagram above the recycling loop is closed when the original manufacturer, in this case HP, reuses the item, in this case ink cartridges, to manufacture the same item again. This eliminates the need to send any cartridges to landfill.
HP's closed loop recycling start with the customer returning the empty cartridges to HP using a Freepost bag or label. Not any cartridges are accepted, they must be HP brand. Once the cartridges are received at the HP recycling centre they are put into what can only be described as a state of the art and pretty amazing automated recycling process.
When the cartridges arrive in their little bags they are put through a machine that de-bags them, then they are passed along a conveyor belt to the x-ray machine. The x ray machine is an impressive piece of machinery that sorts the cartridges into family types at a very quick rate, a job that can take loads of man-hours if done manually.
From there the cartridges are passed to a shredder which shreds all the cartridges into small pieces, they are then passed through a separator that separates the metals from the plastics. The cartridges have now become a raw material, the plastics are mixed with other PET plastics, usually from recycled water bottles and made back into HP ink cartridges. New HP cartridges have between 50 and 70% recycled materiel.
Have a look at the video below for a peek behind the scenes at HP's Closed Loop Recycling Scheme in action at their Nashville,Tennessee recycling plant.
Now; if you are environmentally conscious and have just watched the short video above you are no doubt thinking what a great job HP are doing here shredding all these cartridges, and in fairness from an environmental point of view its good, from the point of lowering the need to make new plastics then its great too but if you have read my previous post on shredding cartridges you will know that I have slightly different opinions on this subject. Not that I disagree with the recycling process, how can you disagree with something that's as streamlined and efficient as HP's process? its not that, its the stage that the cartridges have been shredded.
The fact that HP have to date shredded 250 million cartridges worldwide does not fill my heart with environmental joy. In fact it has the opposite affect on me, it makes me frustrated and sad!, as I said in my earlier post it frustrates me because the cartridges could have been passed through the charity recycling schemes first and then into HP's Closed Loop so for me HP's closed loop recycling scheme is great but it has a step or a stage missing, the stage that would allow the charities to sell the cartridges on the open recycling market to generate funds, then the cartridges could find their way into the closed loop and the cycle could turn again.
HP, possibly have a valid economical reason why they don't want the empty cartridges circulating in the open market, precautions against counterfeits is probably one of them but in the ideal world my suggestion is a good one but sadly we don't live in an ideal world do we?