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November 10, 2004
Zero Waste and Industrial Ecology: A Talk with Xerox VP for Environment, Health, and Safety Jack Azar
    by William Baue

In part one of this two-part interview, Mr. Azar discusses the history of waste-free policies and practices at Xerox.


Tomorrow morning, Xerox (ticker: XRX) CEO and Chair Anne Mulcahy will deliver a keynote address to the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Conference in New York City. To provide background on Xerox's sustainability, SocialFunds.com spoke with Jack Azar, Xerox's vice president of Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS).

SocialFunds.com: Xerox is known for its zero waste policies. Could you please describe the history and inspiration of how Xerox develop its zero waste policies and programs?

Jack Azar: Xerox adopted a strong environmental policy in 1991. This policy, along with several early waste-free successes, firmly established these principles in the company. By success, I mean that we not only substantially reduced waste, but also we realized substantial cost savings. We describe our commitment as seeking to produce waste-free products in waste-free factories in order to enable our customers to be waste-free.

SF: What is the current state of Xerox's zero waste programs?

Xerox products are designed to reduce environmental impacts in all phases of the life cycle. We design our products for remanufacturing and design imaging supply items for return, reuse and recycling. These early decisions mean that once the product's supply item or the product itself has reached its end-of-life, we maximize the assets and minimize the waste. These programs divert over 150 million pounds of electronic waste from landfill each year. Since 1991, over 1.5 billion pounds of product waste have been reused or recycled. We also design our products to be energy-efficient and to make efficient use of paper. Both of these initiatives reduce waste during the product's use phase.

SF: Are zero waste policies and practices of suppliers monitored?

JA: Xerox works closely with many suppliers in achieving our goals, most notably, our contract manufacturer, Flextronics International. Flextronics provides both manufacturing and remanufacturing services for most of Xerox office products. Xerox also carefully manages suppliers that provide recycling and waste disposal services. Xerox uses an audit process to ensure that these vendors' practices are safe, environmentally sound, and compliant with all regulations. Xerox requires these companies to document the final disposition of material sent to their facilities.

SF: And what comes after zero waste?

JA: As I mentioned earlier, Xerox employs a life-cycle view in product design. Our goals include safe products, efficient use of materials and resources, energy efficiency, low emissions and minimal use of hazardous substances. Along with most other electronics manufacturers, we have launched an aggressive program to work with suppliers to eliminate the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium by 2006. Xerox eliminated the use of targeted flame retardants in 1999.

To ensure responsible use of paper, we have deployed environmental requirements to our suppliers that provide Xerox paper for resale. Xerox is one of the largest distributors of cut-sheet paper in the world. These requirements ensure that the fiber in the paper is sourced from responsibly and sustainably managed forests.

For our own operations, we have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have established our baseline inventory for the U.S. and will be expanding that inventory to our worldwide operations and setting reduction targets in 2005.

SF: In what ways does Xerox collaborate with other firms (including those in other industries) on industrial ecology?

JA: Xerox is involved in a number of voluntary programs that provide the opportunity for best practice sharing. These include the EPA Climate Leaders program and the ENERGY STAR program. We have also worked closely with certain customers to realize additional waste reduction activities.

 

 
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