*NEWS*CTG RE-FILLER TO FLOOD N.CALIFORNIA

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*NEWS*CTG RE-FILLER TO FLOOD N.CALIFORNIA

 user 2005-12-14 at 11:20:00 am Views: 48
  • #13430

    Printer-cartridge re-fillers to flood North Bay
    December , 2005
    NORTH
    BAY- If you don’t pass a used computer-printer cartridge seller on the
    way to your supermarket or pharmacy now, you will soon.
    Franchised
    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
    Valley.
    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
    As
    franchise distributor for a territory that stretches from Mendocino to
    Santa Cruz, Mr. Hahn intends to award 140 new franchises by the end of
    2006.
    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.
    The
    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.}
    Although
    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.
    Depending
    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.
    Meanwhile,
    a competing franchise, Cartridge World, was founded in Australia in
    1997 and has grown to 1,000 franchises worldwide, with close to 500 in
    the U.S.
    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
    this spring.
    “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
    service.
    “Santa Rosa can support several franchises, but we want even the smallest towns, like Geyserville, to have one,” he said.
    Unlike
    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
    Franchises
    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.
    “We’re
    responding to customer requests and leveraging some new technology. We
    still have the one-stop-shop advantage over cartridge franchises,” said
    Mr. Bonner.
    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.