The world's leading maker of computer printers is on-line with its first line of ``green'' printers. Hewlett-Packard Co., based in Palo Alto, Calif., introduced its line of Deskjet 850-brand printers this month, featuring outer casings made with a minimum of 25 percent recycled ABS.
H-P estimates use of recycled ABS in the line, which consists of the Deskjet 850 and Deskjet 855 models, will save about 6 million pounds of plastic from being deposited in landfills.
The recycled-content outer casings also feature a thin-wall design, which contributes to a substantially lighter machine, according to John Hollis, a spokesman for the company.
``We have developed the materials use ... to very rigorous specifications,'' Hollis said. ``And we expect to break even on materials costs using the recycled materials instead of virgin ABS.''
The casings are molded at TriQuest Precision Plastics Inc. of Vancouver, Wash.
``It was a slam dunk for us,'' said Eldon Wogen, product manager at TriQuest. ``We do a lot of molding for Hewlett-Packard and other electronics firms, and have molded some of their other products.
``Even though there was recycled content in this line, it presented few problems for us in molding.''
TriQuest has 50 injection molding lines and 330 employees. Wogen declined to give sales figures.
The prime supply of recycled ABS comes from H-P's own computer equipment take-back program, in which about 9.6 million pounds of used equipment is redeemed at H-P plants in Grenoble, France, and Roseville, Calif.
H-P's engineers worked on the project with GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass., which maintains its own material-collection and reclamation network.
ABS from recovered computer equipment is broken down, separated from metal and other materials, and sent to GE contractors that clean, grind and remold it for the Deskjet line.
GE operates an office equipment take-back program of its own at facilities throughout the world, and sells recycled resin made from the material collected.
But the H-P line presented a new set of challenges for GE, according to Douglas Nutter, the resin maker's general manager for resource recovery.
``The color was the most challenging to us,'' he said in a telephone interview. ``We have long experience with colors and adding color to recycled material, but Hewlett-Packard had a set of very stringent standards for this product.''
He said all the printer casings are molded in ``computer beige,'' but that not all of the scrap ABS is that color.
H-P's Hollis noted, meanwhile, ``We are continuing our efforts to use more recycled plastic throughout our product lines.''
The company said the computer products industry uses about 3 billion pounds of resin per year, and estimates that by the end of the decade about 150 million old and obsolete personal computers will be disposed of in landfills.
Throughout the computer and office machine industry, development is under way to design machines using more and more recycled plastic, although they have met with mixed success.
In June, Xerox Corp. announced it had scrapped plans to use recycled high density polyethylene in toner bottles. It cited the relative scarcity and high price of scrap HDPE as the reason for the move.