In this post we’ll explore how much packaging comes with an EVGA 500BQ Power Supply and speculate on how recyclable it is. EVGA 500BQ, 110-BQ-0500-K1. We use these power supplies in some computers which we build for local clients.
The power supply came in a cardboard box with plastic shrink wrap around the exterior and one paper sticker applied to the exterior of the shrink wrap:
So, we carefully peeled off the paper sticker and removed the plastic wrap – according to the internets, the plastic wrap can be recycled with grocery store drop off of plastic bags as long as it is clean, dry and free of stickers. The sticker may be put in with mixed paper recycling.
We’re not sure the purpose of the sticker on the outside of the plastic wrap, however, since EVGA puts its own UPC code, this sticker could probably be eliminated. EVGA could also get away with not wrapping the power supply box in plastic wrap – we don’t have any experience with EVGA motherboards, but every motherboard we’ve used in the past decade or more (100’s) has come in a box without plastic wrap and only a few (mostly ASRock) have had plastic stickers to seal the boxes. Perhaps power supplies can also be sold sans-plastic wrap? Seems like less cost for the manufacturer and less plastic in the world.
Now that we’re down through the plastic shrink wrap, we come to the cardboard box – it has two plastic film stickers on it, one which seals the opening – it features the EVGA logo. The other is the model number / serial number sticker – this is the one you sometimes have to cut out to mail in for a rebate. It is also made of plastic film.
The plastic stickers used for a seal and the model / serial number on a cardboard box like this would not normally be taken off for recycling and the machinery which processes the cardboard would have to deal with the plastic. In the same way it handles plastic packing tape on cardboard. The plastic would most likely end up in the landfill after being separated at the cardboard processing facility. In our case, the plastic films were removed to be taken to the grocery store for recycling. . . and perhaps may end up in the landfill anyway.
Both stickers could possibly be replaced with paper stickers which are easier to recycle than plastic and when it can no longer be recycled, can be composted.
A note on adhesives: The other part of these stickers is the glue which holds them to the box. When the stickers are peeled off, some glue remains on the plastic and some remains on the cardboard. It is another thing for the recycling facilities of these products to deal with.
Opening The Box:
After opening the box, the reason for the power supply rattling around is evident: the box is a bit too large. If the box were properly sized, fewer resources would be used in making it and the 500BQ would not rattle around inside of the box during shipment.
The box is standard cardboard brown on the inside, but is coated on the exterior. It would seem like this is not only more expensive to manufacture, but also more costly to recycle. In our case, the box will likely be saved to be used to ship something else sold here on and on Ebay. If we accumulate too many, then the excess boxes go into the cardboard dumpster for recycling.
Included in the box is:
- The power supply – wrapped in plastic bubble wrap – most of the bubbles are popped because it is made of very thin plastic and has been rattling around inside of the box. The power supply is not physically damaged.
- User’s guide / manual – in several different languages – glossy paper with staple binding.
- Four modular cables – all with plastic coated steel twist ties:
- 1 x VGA / PCIe Cable for supplying power to a video card
- 1 x Molex connector cable for powering older peripherals which use a molex plug.
- 2 x SATA power connectors for powering SATA hard drives and optical drives.
- Small re-sealable plastic bag w/ 4 screws to fasten the power supply to the computer case
- One standard power cable – with plastic coated steel twist tie.
- One re-sealable plastic bag with 2 re-usable EVGA branded plastic fabric velcro-type wire ties.
The manual is in multiple languages, covers the 500, 600, and 700 BQ power supplies, and is printed in color on glossy paper with two staples for the binding. This can be put directly into the mixed paper recycling where the staples can be removed by the recycling process and the fibers in the paper can be recovered. This could be simplified by printing it in black and white on non-glossy paper and only including the language for the market where the item is to be sold. The manual is only 6 pages long. Why include Spanish for sale to the Taiwanese market? The standard pointy-headed manager answer to that is that it’s less expensive to print all of the manuals in all of the languages and include them with all of the power supplies. It just seems wasteful.
The manual also has some dents on the back – probably from to the power supply rattling around inside of the box.
Screws w/ Plastic Bag
Included are four screws for screwing the power supply into the computer’s case. They come in a small, resealable plastic bag. The waste from this would be the small plastic bag which can be recycled with plastic bags at the grocery store. If they are in good condition, we try to reuse the bags for other small parts, screws, et cetera. This one is quite beat up due to the contents of the box rattling around during shipment.
EVGA Branded Cable Ties w/ plastic bag
Also included are two Velcro style cable ties with the EVGA logo in another resealable plastic bag. This plastic bag is also suitable for inclusion in the grocery store plastic bag collection for recycling, but we try to reuse them if they’re in good condition for other small parts, et cetera. We like the reusable cable ties, even though they’re made of plastic fabric. They’re non-conductive and can be reused where zip style cable ties are generally one use items.
Standard Power Cable & Modular Cables
This comes with a standard power cable and modular power cables which have plastic coated steel cable twist ties holding them together. The twist tie is generally the waste part here and would be better to use a bare steel wire instead of coating one with plastic. The wire is already insulated with plastic and a small bare steel wire is unlikely to damage it and it would be less energy intensive to manufacture and easier to recycle. This could also be made from cotton fiber string or hemp twine – both compostable.
It would seem that plastic coated steel could be included in your municipal recycling since it can be separated from the stream with a magnet and then run through the shredder to separate the plastic from the metal again. Again, why coat the steel with plastic, wrap the wire with it, then shred the twist tie to separate the plastic again. We suspect that the plastic from the recovery process is landfilled. On the other hand, plastic coated metal twist ties are also reusable.
For our build, we only need the motherboard power connector and the CPU power connectors which are hard wired into the power supply, so we have these four cables and their corresponding twist ties left over. We generally list them for sale on this website and on Ebay to help find them a new home rather than putting them into the ‘low yield’ copper cable recycling.
The Power Supply
The power supply itself comes wrapped in a plastic bubble wrap bag sealed with a piece of plastic tape. The bubble wrap and tape can be included in the plastic bag recycling at the grocery store if clean and dry. However, since we pack and ship frequently, we try to reuse the bubble wrap bags. This one, however is in poor shape: a lot of the bubbles have popped (due to the power supply rattling around in the box during shipment) and it is made from very thin plastic to begin with. So, this one will head to the grocery store collection.
The logo on the power supply had a small piece of plastic film over it – presumably to guard against scratches – this will also end up in the grocery store collection.
EVGA makes a pretty good power supply and backs it up with a 3 year warranty. We’ve got several of them out in the wild working and have not had to make a warranty claim on any of them. The packaging is attractive and the power supply arrived in good condition despite rattling around in the box. However, there is some room for improvement in minimizing plastic waste and making the packaging more recyclable. These improvements should not only be better for the environment, but should also reduce the cost of the product – which EVGA can then either put into their pockets or pass the savings along to the consumers:
- Make the box smaller to fit the power supply and accessories correctly.
- With this sized correctly, the power supply will not rattle around and the plastic bubble wrap bag could probably be eliminated.
- Use bare steel twist ties to hold the cables together for shipment.
- Eliminate the plastic shrink-wrap on the exterior of the box.
- Don’t use extra stickers when a barcode for the product is already on the box.
- Use a paper sticker for the barcode / serial number label.
- Use a paper sticker for sealing the box, or don’t bother sealing the box.
- Ditch the plastic film over the EVGA logo on the power supply.
- Print the manual in black and white on non-glossy paper only in the language for the market where the unit will be sold.