HP says transparency is key to ensuring responsible electronics recycling, and as such the tech company has disclosed the names and locations of all of its recycling vendors — and is challenging the IT industry to follow suit.
“HP is disclosing its recycling partners to raise the bar for transparency in our industry and to highlight the high standards we set for those vendors,” said Annukka Dickens, HP director of human rights and supply chain responsibility. “We challenge other companies in and outside of the high tech industry to follow our lead and disclose recycler vendor standards and performance, as well as the list of recycling vendors they employ globally.”
The company says this transparency also assures its customers that their e-waste is handled responsibly at its end of life, which is not always the case.
In a blog post, HP cites an investigation from environmental watchdog organization Basel Action Network (BAN), which found 40 percent of e-waste given to recyclers is illegally shipped overseas to unsafe, polluting operations. Last year BAN deployed GPS trackers to verify e-waste recyclers’ claims.
HP says it has recycled more than 3.3 billion pounds of computer and printing hardware and 682 million ink and toner cartridges since 1987. The tech giant also offers takeback, recycling and re-manufacturing programs through its HP Planet Partners program.
Additionally, HP requires its recycling vendors to comply with government regulations and attain third-party certification (such as e-Stewards, R2, or WEEELABEX) to ensure they use ethical and environmentally-responsible processing techniques.
The company regularly audits it recycling partners to ensure compliance with e-waste laws and HP’s standards, and says in 2015 it conducted audits at 58 facilities in 20 countries. These included audits to follow-up on previous findings and confirm ongoing commitment to responsible practices and improved performance.
In extreme cases of noncompliance, HP barred some vendors from recycling on HP’s behalf.
“People should know how and where their equipment is recycled,” Dickens said. “We encourage customers to ask questions about what really happens to the equipment they return.”