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  Business Times 21 Sep 07
'Very little' e-waste recycled in S'pore

By Matthew Phan

SINGAPORE recycles 'very little' electronic waste, with less than 'a few per cent' of computers, printers, cartridges and other equipment returned, a Hewlett-Packard executive said yesterday.

HP's environment director for the Asia-Pacific & Japan, Jean-Claude Vanderstraeten, told a media session that in Western Europe, legislation requires governments to take responsibility for recycling programmes and infrastructure.

But this is not the case in Singapore, which makes it tough for firms like HP to get products back from the market, he said. HP has arrangements for corporate customers, who account for about three-fifths of revenue worldwide, to return products, but has found it difficult to get consumers to do so.

In Europe, consumers can dispose of e-waste at collection points year round.

In Singapore, HP relies on raising general awareness and on-off collection drives. In April this year it held a one-week programme during which consumers could drop off electronic waste - of all brands - at 20 different post offices around the island. The public returned 7,000kg, and HP employees another 7,000kg.

While Mr Vanderstraeten considers the programme successful, he said a similar event in Australia would probably generate more than 40,000kg of e-waste, with only one collection point. And in the US and Europe, a single store on a single weekend can get upwards of 100,000 kg.

HP also wants to focus more on making sure its suppliers are environmentally-friendly and energy efficient. Almost 90 per cent of HP's energy footprint is left by its supply chain, according to Patrick Tiernan, vice-president of corporate, social and environmental responsibility.

Only one per cent of the firm's energy use is through its facilities, manufacturing plants or offices, and another 10 per cent from customers' use of its products, he said.

HP, which spends about US$50 billion a year procuring materials, components, manufacturing or distribution services, sets health, safety and environmental targets for its suppliers.

'We expect non-compliance' and do an 'extensive amount of auditing', Mr Tiernan said.

According to its Global Citizenship Customer Report, this includes a third-party audit of 24 sites in China, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand in 2006.

Whether financial penalties are imposed on errant suppliers depends on 'executive alignment' and 'the situation'.

'It doesn't mean we stop working with them, but we may take business away,' said Mr Tiernan.

Related articles in Singapore: reduce, reuse, recycle
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