Japenese Printer manufacturers in collaborative recycling effort Jan 20, 2011 08:00 by John Sollars
In Japan, still the acknowledged leader of the global electronics industry, printer manufacturers Epson, Brother, Canon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (Japan) and Lexmark joined hands in April, 2008 to launch the Ink Cartridge Homecoming Project. Agreed after a year and a half of negotiations among the firms, this is a collaborative effort which oversees the collection and recycling of ink cartridges from home-based printers.
To make it as convenient as possible for consumers, spent cartridges can be deposited in more than 4,500 collection boxes at post offices, local government offices, schools and other public facilities across Japan.
According to Akihiko Sakai, a member of the board of directors of Seiko Epson Corporation, the spent cartridges are sent to a sorting facility at Epson Mizube, an affiliate of Seiko Epson, where they are separated according to the brand before being returned to the respective manufacturer for recycling.
Six printer manufacturers in Japan are collaborating in the collection and recycling of ink cartridges from home-based printers.
And there’s an incentive for doing so. Participating customers earn points which they can then either use on Epson’s online shopping site or donate to the Nature Conservation Society of Japan or the Organisation for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement International.
In April last year Epson started donating 3 yen for every one of its cartridges recycled to the United Nations Environment Programme. The money will be used to promote biodiversity and sell the idea of “the three R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle).
Some 17,000 schools throughout Japan are now participating in the programme, using the points they earn to purchase essential equipment such as sports gear. According to Epson, between 500,000 and 700,000 used cartridges are sent in by schools each month.
Each year, the company collects around 11.5 million used inkjet cartridges and sends them to its recycling affiliate. Located in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, this plant has a stated policy of favouring the employment of physically challenged people. There, spent Epson cartridges are given a new life by being transformed into items such as pens, bottles, wheel chocks and packaging containers.
Sakai said Epson plans to expand its “homecoming project” to major cities in the Asia-Pacific region including Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Taipei, Seoul and Sydney.