April 19, 2012
Leon Kaye investigates the OEM’s “Willy Wonka”-style Smyrna recycling plant.
Environmental journalist Leon Kaye has investigated printer manufacturer HP’s recycling plant in Smyrna in a paid visit, celebrating 39,000,000 cartridges being shredded since the plant’s inception in 2001, reports TriplePundit.
The “non-descript” 80,000 square foot plant is based in Tennessee, approximately 20 miles southeast of Nashville. Described as “analogous to walking through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, except it does not smell quite as good”, the plant is arranged according to the specific function of each machine: receiving, sorting and disassembling.
On detailing the functions of certain machinery, “one machine empties cartridges of ink […] Another picks out the foam from the colour cartridges”, Kaye notes that HP previously “shredded [cartridges] with all the materials ending up jumbled together. But now they are disassembled before shredding, which requires less energy, less water and a cleaner batch of plastic for the next generation of cartridges.”
Kaye is keen to espouse the environmental benefits of the plant, commenting: “The new process is also more environmentally responsible because the precious metals like gold and palladium in those cartridges can be melted down with less fuel and less toxins […] The cycle is working: HP estimates that some cartridges are entering their ninth and tenth phase of life.”
Despite the plant having an agreeable effect on Kaye, who notes that “the colours [in the plant] are dazzling and the machines are fun to watch”, the environmental journalist notes that the rest of the recycling is transported to Montreal, where the remainder of the recycling process occurs.
Kaye concludes by remarking: “The stacks of boxes full of reused printer cartridges do not lie: HP is doing more than only running a token feel-good recycling programme. The global technology giant is making money, too. We need more companies to do more about taking care of their waste instead of insisting the responsibility lies elsewhere.”
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