Calif. to obtain HP printers using spent ink cartridges

California will be able to get new Hewlett-Packard printers simply by returning used cartridges to the company, HP aannounced this week. The company will also help agencies fill out paperwork concerning the environmental friendliness of their new HP printers, said Jean Gingras, HP's environmental marketing manager for North America.

HP first struck this deal with the California State Board of Equalization last year and later extended the offer to the Department of General Services. The company is now working with the Employment Development Department, State Treasurer's Office and Air Resources Board to strike the same deal, which it hopes to offer to all state agencies by the end of the year.

The HP discount program, called PurchaseEdge, works on a points system. For each depleted HP-purchased print cartridge an agency returns to the company, the agency will get credit toward the purchase of a new HP printer.

Each inkjet cartridge returned garners two points, and each LaserJet cartridge reaps five points. Additional points are given for returning cartridges in quantities of 10 or more. The company will give each agency boxes with prepaid postage in which to return the cartridges.

A new HP Deskjet printer costs 800 to 2,150 PurchaseEdge points. LaserJet printers run from 950 to 18,150 points. Officejet printers require 1,075 to 2,500 points.

An agency can get a basic Deskjet printer for as few as 240 returned cartridges, when they are returned in bulk. By way of comparison, an HP Deskjet 6940 costs about $127 on GSA Advantage, as of the time this story was posted. A new HP cartridge for this printer, which will print about 130 pages, runs about $24 if bought directly from HP.

Also, the company will provide a tally of cartridge returns for each agency, which can be used in the report the agency must file on how it is meeting the recycling mandates of California's State Agency Buy Recycled Campaign. HP estimates that the state disposes of 100 tons of HP print cartridges a year.

The company has been running its cartridge-recycling program since 1991 and has thus far collected 195 million cartridges, Gingras said. The used cartridges are disassembled and their component materials are melted down and reused to make new cartridges.

HP is encouraging the state to upgrade its printers to Energy Star-approved HP models, Gingras said. The company estimates that the change could save the state as much as $2 million a year in energy costs. In 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order calling for agencies to reduce electricity use in state buildings by 20 percent by 2015.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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