Hewlett-Packard and Staples are partnering to help small businesses with an e-waste recycling program.
The huge technology and office-supplies companies will sponsor free electronics recycling at any Staples location in the continental U.S. It's a convenient way to get rid of old computers, cell phones and printers in an earth-friendly way.
Recycling old electronics is a good way to help your business with its green initiative.
We spoke with Mark Buckley, Staples' vice president of environmental affairs, and Chris Librie, director of environmental initiatives at HP. They talked about how they made their businesses more sustainable—and how you can, too.
What impact will the e-waste recycling program have?
Chris Librie: We're estimating that we'll be keeping tens of millions of [pounds] of e-waste out of landfills every year.
Mark Buckley: Only 25 percent of e-waste is responsibly recycled right now, so we're hoping that programs like this will make a big impact. We have a number of products, like recycled paper, that can help our customers build a more sustainable business. Staples recycled electronics before, but customers had to pay for it. Now they can come to Staples and drop them off free of cost. That makes it way more convenient.
How did you improve sustainability at your companies?
CL: We've been recycling e-waste since 1987 and have kept 2 billion pounds of that out of landfills. We've worked in a few different ways. One is that we provide products and services that are more efficient in terms of energy [use]. Our PC printers use half the energy that they did five years ago. In our own offices, we work to reduce the impact we make by using recycled paper and recycling printer cartridges. So millions of plastic bottles and old printer cartridges are being reused.
How can small businesses start being more sustainable?
CL: A good way to start is by looking at your energy bills and seeing what you're using. Small things can make a big impact, like unplugging computers when you're not using them. When it's time to replace office equipment, look for EP-certified products. Those save you money every month by using less energy.
MB: Look for the greenest print options. You won't be able to tell a difference in quality, but you won't be using as much from the environment. We have recycled paper made from sugar cane lace at our stores. This is just a by-product that would otherwise be thrown away, but we found a use for it. Offices can also get refillable writing utensils to cut down on plastic.
What are your sustainability plans for the future?
MB: Right now we offer more than 10,000 environmentally friendly products, everything from cleaner to paper to mouse pads. So we're going to continue to build on that and make it easier for customers to be green.
CL: It's important to have a no-stone-unturned approach when it comes to sustainability. We're in the process of developing software that would monitor energy use at each of our 180 corporate locations.
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