Published in Imaging Spectrum issue March 2009 and Recycler Trade Magazine issue March 2009
Green practices have become all the rage over the past year. Consumers are paying attention to not just price points, but also conservation aspects as well. And companies are putting programs and partners in place for recycling and conservation practices.
One company has made so much green news that it landed a spread in 1 December 2008 issue of Newsweek. This company, Xerox, is surprising media, consumers and competitors with its green initiatives – seeing that it has traditionally made its profits by getting consumers to print more, a practice which is not so green.
To be fair, Xerox is seeking greener paths and educating customers on what they can do on their end. One of its most recent innovations is an erasable paper. A coating on the paper reacts to light and temperature. The coating reacts to light to create images and text, turning those portions of the page black. But in a period of 16 hours or longer, the paper reacts to temperature and becomes colourless. Making the paper useful for temporary needs, like a meeting agenda. After the text and graphics have been erased, the paper can be put back in the printer to be used again and again. According to Elissa Nesbit, manager of public relations, the paper is not on the market yet, partly due to its cost-effective component.
Other Xerox products that have a greener edge are solid ink, which reduces waste as it’s shipped in brick form and requires no cartridge. A new toner that takes 25 percent less energy to produce is also being promoted. And a high-yield paper that uses about twice as much of the tree as normal paper. The paper is much thinner, giving customers more for the same price point. But the paper should not be used for archival material as it yellows when exposed to sunlight.
In addition to the company’s green products, it has made a three-year partnership with the Nature Conservancy. “We’re in the middle of the second year,” Nesbitt said, “and we’re working with them to create tools and programs to save endangered forest and to educate folks about sustainable forestry.”
The company also challenged itself in 2003 to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 10 percent by 2010. Xerox has achieved this goal, and exceeded it, cutting 18 percent in 2006. After surpassing its goal, Xerox raised it, striving for a 25 percent cut by 2012.
Xerox has also made a global change in its fleet management – converting its vehicles to diesel in Europe, fuel-efficient vehicles or vehicles that use ethanol as a dominant alternative fuel.
The company has made strides in its green approach, especially since it is a paper/copy company. But the practices Xerox has initiated are not completely out of touch from what the remanufacturing industry has done and can do.
Remanufacturing, from its roots, has long been a green industry. However, many consumers have no idea that it exists. Part of the reason for this is that remanufacturers don’t have the million dollar advertising and marketing budgets that companies like Xerox and HP have.
But remanufacturers have to start getting their names and messages out there. And now might be a great time to do that. Due to the economy, the media is constantly covering how to survive a recession. Some of the ideas might not apply, but other ideas could easily be adapted to fit your business plan. Ideas like partnering up with companies that have a similar mission and use each other to get the word out about each others’ businesses could work. Partner with your local grocery store and ask if you can stuff their “green” reusable bags with your company literature. Green bags and remanufactured cartridges may not seem like a match, but both have goals of keeping waste out of landfills. Both are about recycling and reusing. This is just one example of penetrating your area with company literature. There are many other free ways of getting the word out about the green benefits and cost benefits to consumers.
Xerox has a good story and people should know about it efforts. We congratulate them and are impressed by their green approach. But it is time that the media, consumers and competitors start hearing about the remanufacturing industry. This industry has so much to offer end-users and the planet and it is time that this industry is recognized for its efforts as well.