Consulting Project: Hewlett-Packard Company

Project Title: Increasing the Value Recovery in Recycled European IT Equipment

This project is assigned by Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) to a consulting team of 4 participants within the Diploma in Sustainable Business program. The project timeline includes the period of October 2014-June 2015.

Project background

Every day HP ships over 110,000 printers, 75,000 computers and 3,500 servers. Eventually these products will reach the end of their useful life.  Therefore, HP provides product take-back programs in 70 countries and collaborates with partners to support responsible movement and disposal of electronic waste.

The EU has made enormous progress towards ensuring that all waste IT equipment is responsibly handled; by some estimates, over two thirds of the EU’s WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive) is properly collected and treated.  However, it is less clear how much value recyclers are recovering from the recycled gear.  Recycling IT isn’t easy- these are complicated products, with a long delay between manufacture and recovery. The European Commission thinks recycling could be improved. The European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, released his circular economy package in July 2014. One of initiatives is to use the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) to mandate improvements in product design that facilitate recycling.  HP expects that the IT sector will be an early candidate.

Project objectives

HP seeks to advance the understanding of value recovery for recycled European IT equipment with this project by:

  • Modelling the financial reverse value chainfor recycled European IT equipment (desktop and laptop computers, computer displays, servers, network and storage equipment, and printers), including-
    • Sorting, disassembly, and recycling
    • Alternative scenarios (manual disassembly and shredding) and important variables (like the cost of disassembly labor)
    • A high-level mass balance of waste equipment and materials
  • Identifying the leverage points for improvement(places where we can recover the most value for the least effort)
    • Focus on plastics or metals recovery? Are both possible?
    • What do manufacturers, recyclers, and public policy need to do differently?  Provide a short list of recommendations.
  • Create a business case for action for the sector
    • And turn it into a clear and compelling story backed up with compelling visuals (infographics like Sankey diagrams)

Project activities

  • Development of a project plan & HP project data sheet by the first half of November with key milestones
  • Study and absorb the literature provided by HP to get up to speed in the sector
  • Disassemble IT Equipment provided by HP
  • Interviews with experts in industry, academia, recycling, and government
  • Tentative
    • Tours of recyclers
    • Workshop with key stakeholders

Jason Ord, the Hewlett-Packard Project Owner is reporting on the final project review here: 

HP Project Leader Jason Ord about the Consulting Project:

Past Consulting Projects