*NEWS*CTG RE-FILLER TO FLOOD N.CALIFORNIA
*NEWS*CTG RE-FILLER TO FLOOD N.CALIFORNIA
2005-12-14 at 11:20:00 am #13430
Printer-cartridge re-fillers to flood North Bay
December , 2005
BAY- If you don’t pass a used computer-printer cartridge seller on the
way to your supermarket or pharmacy now, you will soon.
ink and toner cartridge remanufacturers, the bane of the
computer-printer manufacturing industry, will be popping up in the
North Bay like poppies in the spring.
Two aggressive franchises -
one Australian and one U.S.-owned – plan to blanket Marin, Sonoma and
Napa counties with retail outlets and pick-up-drop-off points during
the coming year.
One is here already. Rapid Refill Ink, part of new
chain Rapid Refill Ink International, is collecting cartridges in Whole
Foods stores in Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol – and soon, Mill
Owner James Hahn is busy soliciting FedEx Kinko’s, Radio
Shack, UPS and Pak Mail outlets for drop-box locations in addition to
his retail-refilling operation at 1415 North Dutton Ave. He’ll also
pick up and deliver to local businesses.
140 operations by end of next year
franchise distributor for a territory that stretches from Mendocino to
Santa Cruz, Mr. Hahn intends to award 140 new franchises by the end of
Founded last year by marine biologist Dan White, Rapid Refill
Ink stresses environmental benefits along with the cost savings – up to
70 percent – of reusing cartridges.
Although manufacturers of new
cartridges urge users to recycle them, many cartridges end up as waste
in Third World countries, according to experts. In villages in Central
America and China, villagers earn about $1.50 a day harvesting the
toner and metal parts from cartridges, most used only once. The plastic
casing is burned, according to research by International Imaging
Technology Council, an industry trade organization that follows the
issue of cartridge recycling.
“The toxicity is horrendous,” said Tricia Judge, the organization’s executive director.
Rapid Refill retail stores sound the environmental note in their
building material: Wheat stalk walls, crushed sunflower seed counters
and carpets containing used milk jugs. The remanufacturing operation is
fully automated and includes testing for quality assurance.}
Mr. White doesn’t release numbers, he said “margins are good on
cartridges,” noting that college towns in general and Northern
California in particular are places where people are responsive to the
message that they can save money and the environment at the same time.
on their make and usage, some ink jet cartridges can be refilled up to
30 times. Toner cartridges can be rebuilt slightly more often and a few
can’t be rebuilt at all because of design, said Rapid Refill’s Mr. Hahn.
a competing franchise, Cartridge World, was founded in Australia in
1997 and has grown to 1,000 franchises worldwide, with close to 500 in
By the end of 2006, the company intends to open over 125
stores in the Bay Area. The first North Bay location will open in Napa
“We’re especially interested in the Marin County and
Santa Rosa markets,” said Cartridge World North America CEO Burt
Yarkin. “Our emphasis is on visibility and branding; we want to be a
household name, and to that end we’ll open retail stores and kiosks
wherever shoppers congregate, as well as provide business-to-business
“Santa Rosa can support several franchises, but we want even the smallest towns, like Geyserville, to have one,” he said.
the Rapid Refill model, with a manufacturing hub serving multiple
retail outlets, each Cartridge World franchise will have its own
automated refilling, rebuilding and testing equipment.
Franchises $100,000 to $150,000
cost $100,000 to $150,000 a store, usually requiring a cash outlay of
$40,000. Most Cartridge World franchisees own multiple stores and a
successful operation can reportedly bring about $80,000 in annual
income after an 8 percent franchising fee.
“The cartridge recharging
industry has been around for a long time, but hidden from the public in
warehouses and industrial parks,” said Mr. Yarkin. “We want to be seen,
to make people aware of the fact that there are low-cost, high quality
alternatives to buying new and to the significant environmental damage
associated with discarded cartridges.”
Some office supply retailers
are catching on. Office Max has tested an in-store refilling
alternative to its new cartridges. According to spokesman William
Bonner, the service will be offered in new Office Max outlets in some
parts of the country, but not initially in California.
responding to customer requests and leveraging some new technology. We
still have the one-stop-shop advantage over cartridge franchises,” said
Lexmark, known for its environmentally friendly return
program, offers a discount at the point of sale if a customer agrees in
writing to return the cartridge to Lexmark. As a further deterrence,
the company includes a chip which, should the cartridge be rebuilt,
turns off the printer.
HP and Canon operate their own recycling programs.