Striving for a Circular Economy
Beginning with our first commercial product, the Xerox 914, Xerox introduced electronics remanufacturing long before the term “circular economy” was coined. Our vision was to transform Xerox manufacturing, operations, offices and facilities into waste-free workplaces. We had this same vision for our customers’ workplaces: a world where electronics and supplies at the end of their useful life would come full circle to become the raw materials of tomorrow. In this model, quality is not compromised, precious natural resources are conserved and waste becomes an obsolete term. More than five decades later, we continue to demonstrate that a circular economy delivers environmental, economic and societal benefits.
Our aim is to design products, packaging and supplies that make efficient use of resources, minimize waste, reuse material where feasible and recycle what cannot be reused. To meet this commitment, we developed several collection, waste reduction, design and business model programs in line with the key elements of a circular economy.
Using Waste as a Resource - The Xerox Green World Alliance (GWA) provides a collection and reuse/recycling program for spent consumables. The Xerox Product Takeback and Recycling Program efficiently manages equipment at end-of-life, thereby diverting material from the landfill and reducing the demand for raw materials.
Design for the Future - Ensures that our products and packaging placed on the market today can ultimately be reused, fit end-of-life management processes and meet customer needs in the future. Our packaging design goes beyond regulatory requirements by prioritizing a “reduce, reuse, recycle” strategy.
Adaptive Business Model - Xerox has an adaptive, leased product business model through which we can guarantee 100 percent of the equipment is returned for optimized end-of-life processing. This model also ensures our design process prioritizes equipment longevity, reuse and allows for ultimate recycling.
Our approach to the circular economy translates into significant environmental and financial benefits for Xerox and our customers.
Learn more about how Xerox enables a circular economy here.
Consumables Takeback and Recycling
Our GWA initiative, as noted, is a collection and reuse/recycling program for customers for their used imaging supplies. GWA is central to our commitment to waste-free products. Currently, more than 35 countries participate in the Xerox GWA. Worldwide, our customers returned more than 4.8 million cartridges, toner containers and other used supply items in 2017, equating to 4,600 metric tons.
Returned products are sorted, and items suitable for remanufacturing are cleaned, inspected and then remanufactured. Remanufactured consumables, containing an average of 90 percent reused/recycled parts, are built and tested to the same performance specifications as new products. Items that are not suitable for remanufacturing are recycled or recovered through energy from waste. Recycled waste toner and toner reclaimed from manufacturing that qualifies for reuse may account for 25 percent of the weight of new toner, without compromising toner functionality. Reusing waste/reclaimed toner saves several million dollars in raw material costs each year. Of the toner that cannot be reclaimed, 75 percent is recycled by our consumables recycling partner while the remaining volume is utilized at energy from waste facilities to generate steam and electricity.
Total Waste Diverted from Landfills from Returned Cartridges, Bottles and Waste Toner
Equipment and Parts Takeback and Recycling
We have developed a comprehensive system for taking back end-of-life products, which processes assets through remanufacture, refurbish, parts reuse, recycling or broker sales, each of which fully supports our waste-free initiatives.
We design our machines with high durability and reuse capability in order to facilitate multiple product lifecycles. During the active phase of a product, all returned equipment and spare parts are evaluated for reuse opportunities throughout the supply chain. Finally, all parts and equipment that are not destined for reuse have specific guidelines, which facilitate easy and consistent recycling.
Xerox enables reuse according to the following principles:
- Reuse of Complete End Item - This approach requires the least reprocessing, transportation and energy usage.
- Remanufacturing or Conversion into a Newer-Generation Product or Part - Product families are designed with a high level of commonality to enable maximum reuse. This allows us to remanufacture to “as new” performance specifications while reusing 70 to 90 percent of the machine components by weight without degradation of quality or performance.
- Used Equipment - Equipment returns are evaluated for potential reuse. Based on the condition and market demands, equipment may be put through an extended maintenance/verification process to return it to a high standard and then be redeployed. Approximately 50 percent of machines returned in the U.S. are given new life by being sold as used or sent for remanufacturing of some sort.
- Reuse of Major Modules, Subcomponents and Parts for Spares or Manufacturing - Many of our machines that have outlived their useful life are stripped of usable parts and components prior to the scrap/reclaim process. Used spare parts returned from the field are also included in this reuse stream. Xerox has continually been increasing the number of components that are reused in upstream and downstream processes after the original machine has been designated for recycling.
- Material Recycling - After the processes noted above have been followed, any remaining portion of a machine is stripped of any recyclable material (e.g., plastics, copper wire) and material requiring special disposal services, such as printed wire boards, batteries and lamps. The remainder of the machine is then sent to an industrial reclaim facility.
- Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Content - All Xerox products contain between zero percent to five percent post-consumer recycled plastic content.
Changes in volumes of waste diverted from landﬁlls are due in part to increases in product and part reuse opportunities, modiﬁcations in product mix, a move to lighter-weight machines as well as growth of regulatory-driven local recycling schemes. For example, the transition to digital equipment and lighter-weight parts has reduced the weight of both office and production equipment by as much as 50 percent over the last 10 years. The decline also includes a decrease in the number of office machines returned for remanufacturing in Europe due to participation in European Union member state Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) programs. In geographies where Xerox exercises direct control over the end-of-life management of equipment, return rates are high. For example, approximately 57 percent of all U.S. equipment installs are ultimately returned to Xerox for end-of-life disposition, a figure that rises to 100 percent for leased equipment.
In 2017, 9,200 metric tons of equipment and parts related waste were diverted from landfills to recycling at our U.S. Reverse Logistics Center. Globally, that volume rises to 9,400 metric tons.
Total Waste Diverted from Landfills from Returned Equipment and Parts
While Xerox has long been committed to responsible end-of-life management of equipment, the proliferation of e-waste regulations has created a need for multiple programs in different countries and even states. We carefully manage suppliers that provide recycling and waste disposal services to ensure our customers’ returned equipment is protected from data breaches and improper disposal. Xerox does not allow its vendors to send electronic scrap to developing nations for processing. In addition, we strive to work with only those electronic waste recyclers that have implemented voluntary programs certified by accredited organizations including Sustainable Electronics Recycling International’s (SERI) Responsible Recyclers (R2) or the Basal Action Network’s e-Stewards standards.