Green Matters


OPI focuses on sustainability, the environment and the latest news shaping the green agenda within the office products industry.
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1.8 tonnes of the earth destroyed to produce just one computer
With the production of just one desktop computer stripping the earth of 1.8 tonnes of natural materials, office managers are being urged to recycle old IT equipment.

It is estimated that over 260 million new computers are produced globally each year, with natural resources such as copper and gold ore used to manufacture components such as circuit boards and connectors.

This means that annually, over 450 million tonnes of the earth is stripped away and unless we start to recycle more, then this figure will only grow as the world’s demand and reliance on technology grows.

According to a study by the United Nations University, the manufacturing of one desktop computer and 17-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor requires at least 240kg of fossil fuels, 22kg of chemicals and 1,500kg of water. The findings – which come as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) passes the six-month anniversary of its introduction across Europe – highlight the importance of recycling, in the battle against climate change by business organisations.

Graham Davy, chief executive of recycling consultant Sims, said: "These figures are extraordinary. When one considers that 40 tonnes of copper ore and 15 tonnes of gold ore are needed to be mined and refined to make just one tonne of computer equipment – then one can see the huge drain on the Earth’s natural resources.

"As a society, it is imperative that we use the resources we already have.

"There will be computers in offices which are at the end of their useful lives. These machines could either be re-furbished to be used again within an organisation or the materials in the redundant machines could be stripped down, recycled and used again in the production of new machines – meaning that we don’t have to continue stripping the planet of its virgin resources.

"The Earth only has so much to give in terms of precious minerals and if we continue chewing them up at the rate we are doing – then, sooner rather than later, the world is going to run out of resource," he continued.

In the UK alone, over one million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) waste is dumped in landfill annually. Globally, Sims recycles 18 million units of WEEE per year, with a large proportion of that waste material being desktop computers.

Pentel launch eco-friendly range
Pentel of America is continuing its long-standing commitment to sustainability and social responsibility with the launch of Recycology, a new umbrella brand for its eco-friendly products.

Pentel’s environmental programmes began in 1974 when a Pentel factory in Japan was recognised and honoured for its waste water treatment facilities and its participation in environmentally friendly programmes.

Today, the Pentel line of Recycology products are made from a minimum of 50 percent, and up to 100 percent, recycled content or post-consumer recycled content. This environmentally responsible line of products includes pens, markers, pencils, lead, and tape.

The Recycology Programme is being introduced by Pentel as a new way of helping the environment by reducing the amount of waste and increasing recycling activity during manufacturing. Pentel’s Recycology Recycled-Content products contain recovered materials that have been reused in the manufacturing process. The Post-Consumer Recycled products are made from content collected in commercial and residential recycling programmes.

"Pentel is committed to creating a healthier environment for future generations, while creating products of superior design and quality, as illustrated in our Recycology line," said Peter Katz, Director of Marketing for Pentel. "In addition to using recycled materials, many of the products in the Recycology line are refillable to further lessen environmental waste."

The Recycology products have the same quality, reliability, and dependability as other Pentel products. Eco-savvy consumers seeking green office and school supplies will be drawn to use the products in the Recycology line so that they can do their part in protecting the environment. Product packaging is also made of recycled and recyclable materials.

Cisco goes green with new eco-initiatives
Cisco Systems has appointed its first "green guru" and opened its first office built to national green standards.

The IT networking giant Cisco last month unveiled its new St Louis regional sales headquarters in Chesterfield, Missouri. The office was built in compliance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for clean air and energy efficiency. According to John Moses, Cisco’s regional manager for the Missouri commercial region, the 17,400 ft_ office in the Chesterfield Ridge Center is the first of many LEED-certified offices Cisco will build in the coming years, the next of which will be in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Moses said the office will use sets of Cisco’s collaboration tools like unified communications, videoconferencing and TelePresence high-definition IP videoconferencing to allow face-to-face real-time meetings between colleagues and partners without the need to travel, ultimately reducing Cisco’s carbon footprint.

"If we can reduce one flight to Chicago and back, that will help us reduce our carbon emissions," Moses said. "These technologies really can help us cut costs, reduce air travel and reduce our overall carbon emissions."

The new office falls in line with Cisco CEO John Chambers’ Carbon to Collaboration initiative, in which the Cisco head committed to reduce Cisco’s greenhouse gas emissions from air travel by 10 percent during fiscal years 2007 and 2008.

In a second project, Cisco is also investing $15 million in pilot programmes that will embed technologies such as GPS, RFID and wireless communications into transportation systems in Amsterdam, Seoul and San Francisco. The aim is to reduce congestion and improve how people move around cities.

"The Connected Urban Development initiative will create an urban communications infrastructure that increases the efficiency of traffic flow, which in turn dramatically enhances how people experience life in and around cities," said Chambers, adding that less congestion also means less pollution.

SS launch the first ever biodegradable product range
Stewart Superior (SS) has launched a new range of completely biodegradable office products. Working with a plastics additive company, the firm has manufactured a range of products that will biodegrade after one year of being exposed to sunshine and moisture.

The SSECO range, which include files, document wallets, black sacks and bubble wrap, will retain their quality in normal everyday use but once exposed to the elements continually for about three months, they start to degrade, eventually returning to compost.

"What we’ve got is a totally biodegradable polypropylene for the first time ever in the office products industry," said Geoff Betts, managing director of Stewart Superior. "This is as big a breakthrough as the industry has had for some time."

Launched in January, some of the products also feature a brand new concept in that you can now easily remove any metal parts and return to SS for recycling.

SSECO’s secret is reverte, an oxo-biodegradable additive that rapidly degrades plastic polymer without releasing any green houses gases.

The additive is already in use, in plastic sheeting that covers strawberry fields for instance, but the new range from Superior sees it enter the office products space for the first time.

Betts said the new range answers a lot of questions in the current scramble for green answers. "We can take this in a lot of directions. Recycling is a great idea but it is only part of the solution and it requires someone to put the waste item in the right bin to begin with. SSECO can be thrown away in any manner and, with the metal parts easily removed, will disappear."

Office partitions awarded green certification
M/W International (MWI) has announced that its entire Forecast line of architectural demountable partitions has been awarded GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification, indicating that they meet the strict requirements of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute(GEI). GEI is the leader in establishing independent standards for low-emitting interior products and building materials for healthy indoor air.

Since indoor air is often four to five times more polluted than outside air, facility managers are becoming increasing aware of the dangers it can present. At high levels, buildings can become "sick", causing people to experience headaches, become lethargic, and fatigued. Illness and lost productivity due to indoor air pollution and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) costs businesses $60 billion annually, according to a recent EPA report.

"GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is pleased to include M/W International’s moveable wall panels among the extensive listing of GREENGUARD Certified products," says Laura Spriggs, Communications Manager with GEI. "The certified moveable walls not only support a flexible and adaptable office plan, they also contribute to better indoor air quality by assuring low chemical emissions. Studies indicate that healthy work environments can produce significant benefits including increased worker productivity, less sick days and employee retention."

Coming to terms with green speak
‘Carbon neutral’, ‘BREEAM’, ‘ISO14001’ – all increasingly common terms in business, but what do they mean?

London-based office design and fit-out company, Morgan Lovell, have issued a guide to ‘green’ office terminology that businesses may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

As the world continues to go ‘green’, a whole new vocabulary has emerged over recent years relating to the different activities, systems and standards designed to measure and monitor eco-friendly performance. Some of the terms are well-known, others a little more obscure. Now sustainable office design specialist, Morgan Lovell, has developed a guide to some of the terminology businesses are increasingly encountering in their day-to-day activity. The information is only intended as a guide, but gives an insight to the sheer volume of detail companies now need to digest to get to grips with green matters.

Carbon neutral: Many companies are striving to help the environment by working to reduce their carbon footprints. Being carbon neutral simply means calculating the carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by a particular activity or business and then balancing that with an equal investment in renewable energy or reforestation. This process is also called ‘carbon-offsetting.’

FTSE4Good: FTSE4Good is an index for socially responsible investment set up by FTSE, the well known financial index provider. The FTSE4Good index covers three areas: working towards environmental sustainability; developing positive relationships; and upholding and supporting universal human rights.

BREEAM: BREEAM stands for the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method. It is used to assess the performance of building across a series of categories, including good design, energy use, sustainable materials, air and water pollution, access to public transport, land use and water consumption. Credits are awarded in each category and then used to produce a single overall score and a rating on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good or Excellent.

LEED: LEED is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. The standard has arrived in Europe from America, and it is becoming an increasingly well-known method of rating the sustainability of a building.

ISO 14001: One of the best known terms in sustainability, ISO 14001 is the most widely recognised international standard for environmental management systems. It is recognised as having emerged from the Rio Summit held in 1992. The summit led to a commitment to protection of the environment across the world.

Energy Performance Certificates: One to watch, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were initiated by the European Union in 2003 and are now set for introduction by governments. All residential, public and commercial buildings will be required to hold an EPC and the law states that when a building is sold or rented out, a valid EPC (not more than ten years old) must be made available by the owner to the prospective purchaser or tenant. The final rating for a building is represented on a scale from A to G, with A being the highest rating.

Environmental Compliance for Non-Hazardous Waste: This refers to new rules from the Environment Agency which states that from October 30, 2007, all non-hazardous waste must be pre-treated before it is disposed of at landfill sites. This rule only previously applied to hazardous waste. Companies have a duty of care to describe their waste properly and only give it to someone authorised to handle it. Any company which decides to send waste to a landfill site should find out if it is treated first. Treatment covers a range of processes from the simple act of sorting waste for recycling to reducing its hazardous nature.

Forest Stewardship Scheme: This scheme gives businesses and individuals the chance to use sustainable timber products. The Forest Stewardship Council is a global organisation backed by environmental pressure groups, such as Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature. A certification scheme is in operation, which easily allows companies to identify timber from sustainable sources.

Carbon Trust: The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit private company set up by the UK Government in response to the threat of climate change. It aims to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy through its work with British businesses. The trust offers advice on low carbon technology and on incentives available to help companies reduce their CO2 levels.

Energy Saving Trust: The Energy Saving Trust is a not-for-profit organisation jointly funded by the Government and the private sector. It aims to promote energy conservation and reduce CO2 emissions. The trust manages phase one of the Low Carbon Building Programme and provides free advice through a network of regional centres. The trust asks all businesses to commit to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent before 2010.

Building Regulations Part L: In the UK, Part L of the Building Regulations refers to conservation of fuel and power. The regulations, introduced in 2006, set high standards for the design and construction or refurbishment of buildings. These include new requirements for energy performance ratings, including the setting of maximum CO2 limits.

A free Sustainable Office Design Checklist is available for download at This is Morgan Lovell’s step-by-step guide to creating a ‘green’ office interior.

EPEAT alliance
Channel Intelligence and the Green Electronics Council which manages the EPEAT green computer rating system, last month announced they have entered an alliance to provide wider availability of information on products compliant with the EPEAT standard. The alliance will help increase awareness and purchases of green electronics through the integration of EPEAT registration status into online product descriptions on eCommerce websites.