HP is devising a take-back policy for PC and IT hardware under a new three-year Sustainability Compact agreement struck with the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation.
A first for HP globally, the initiative consists of four key elements: sustainability leadership; sustainable products and services; efficient product and service delivery; and environmental responsibility.
HP environmental manager for South Pacific, Annukka Sairanen, said the primary objective was to improve the vendor's environmental practices. As well as formulating a take-back scheme for PC hardware, it had also agreed to scale up recycling of printer cartridges, as well as implement better and more environmentally efficient operations across its facilities.
Alongside the pact, a steering committee of HP executives would also be formed to monitor, measure and review the agreement, she said.
Sairanen said HP already had existing programs in place to encourage commercial and public sector customers to buy environmentally-friendly products.
The new Compact would help to extend this way of thinking into the consumer market, she said. The first step under the Compact would be to come up with pilot programs encouraging product recycling of all HP computers. Both the government and HP would also look to develop an Australian Sustainability Report.
The agreement is one of many new plans being created by the industry to tackle e-waste management.
Earlier this year, the Australian Information and Industry Association (AIIA), in conjunction with Planet Ark, released a report suggesting a fee be incorporated into all IT product sales to cover the cost of return and recycling. It also claimed a recycling guarantee certificate should be included with each product sold.
Sairanen said HP supported the broader AIIA plans to introduce an industry-wide program for PC take-back and recycling.
"It is my belief with product take-back programs, or any other environmental policies, that the best outcomes come from the industry, government and community," she said. "We have already designed products to be more recyclable at their end of life. What we need to establish is shared responsibility."
Sairanen said HP would also work towards signing similar agreements with other state departments across Australia.
"We would like to see this type of Compact approach right across the industry," she said.
A spokesperson for the NSW state government said it had also drafted a letter to the AIIA, encouraging it to ramp up efforts in implementing e-waste schemes.
The problem was only going to escalate as more households embraced IT equipment, the spokesperson said.
According to a recent national report into e-waste, Australians bought 3 million computers last year, but only two per cent of old machines were being recycled.