May 3, 2004

Earth Award projects save Xerox $5.5M, reduce waste, energy use worldwide

A Canadian team was among 14 at Xerox operations around the world recognized under the company's "Earth Awards" program. The winning teams, selected from 46 worldwide entries, were located in Mississauga, Ontario, as well as Webster, NY; Wilsonville, Oregon; Nogales, Mexico; Dundalk, Ireland; Rampur, India; and Mitcheldean, United Kingdom.

A green team at the Xerox toner manufacturing facility in Mississauga devised a way of reducing the amount of water used in a key manufacturing process. The production of emulsion aggregation (EA) toner, which is grown from chemical compounds into the toner particles used to make images in printers and copiers, consumes a large amount of water.

The Mississauga team decided to find a way to reduce the amount of water needed, which in turn would reduce the amount of "wash" wastewater needing treatment before disposal to the sanitary sewer. By changing the toner "wash" process, the team reduced the number of washes per toner batch from five to three. This new process is expected to save 1.3 million gallons of water in 2004 and reduce the cost of wastewater disposal by $66,233.

Xerox has long ensured that waste toner is not unnecessarily disposed of in landfills. This includes both manufactured toner "fines," or toner not included in the final product, and post-consumer "used" toner. Waste toner has been sent to a municipal incinerator to be burned and produce power in Niagara Falls, NY.

In 2003, the Webster, NY team found a way to expand this waste-to-energy program to include the safe disposal of other materials such as used toner bottles and cartridges. Last year, the Webster toner developer plant sent about 430 tons of toner-related waste for waste-to-energy recovery, which generated 970,000 kilowatt-hours, enough power to light more than 40,000 homes for a week. As a result, the Webster facility boosted its recycling rates to over 97%

The Wilsonville, Oregon team devised a system to re-use the metal circuit board stencils in Xerox office products, either wholly or in part. A circuit board stencil controls the operational functionality of the machines, and previous recycling methods of these stencils were not viewed as maximizing cost savings. If the used stencils cannot be incorporated into new designs, the metal is recycled into stock for new ones. Xerox benefits by being able to purchase new stencils at a lower price. In all, the new processes save Xerox $10,000 annually and reduce environmental impact.

A simple scheme to eliminate the use of plastic cutlery at SUMEX (Supplies Unit Mexico), which is Xerox's remanufacturing facility in Nogales, Mexico, reduced cafeteria waste by 8,600 pounds last year. All of the facility's 300 employees received their own set of metal utensils and a ceramic coffee mug with their name printed on the side. Another team at the Nogales operation found an opportunity to reduce waste by rebuilding used wooden pallets. The pallets recovery process saved $97,700 and re-used 13,316 pallets in 2003.

These employee teams demonstrate that what is good for the environment is also good for business. In 2003, their projects saved Xerox $5.5 million, eliminated more than 16.5 million pounds of waste, and reduced energy consumption by more than 4.2 million kilowatt hours - enough power to light 175,000 homes for seven days. Since the program was started, Earth Award teams have saved Xerox more than $235 million.

More information is available on the Xerox Web site,

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