*NEWS*REFILL , DON’T REPLACE !
*NEWS*REFILL , DON’T REPLACE !
2006-04-03 at 1:20:00 pm #15048
Refill, don’t replace
saving money and helping the environment can fit together like …
well, like the way the printer ink cartridge fits into your computer
you’ve been buying brand-name ink cartridges for your printer, you’ve
surely noticed the high prices. Critics have said that,
ounce-for-ounce, printer ink often costs more than perfume.
can save up to 50 percent – and help reduce waste and conserve
resources – by purchasing refilled or remanufactured cartridges. You
have an increasing number of choices now, so if you’ve shied away from
those lower-cost alternatives in the past, it’s time to give them
First, a quick primer on printers. Many households and
small businesses have color inkjet printers, which use liquid ink.
Offices commonly use laser printers that use powdery toners.
inkjet printer manufacturers attract buyers with rock-bottom prices -
as low as $30 for a new printer. Once you buy the printer, you need
cartridges, and that’s where companies make the bulk of their profits.
The original manufacturer’s replacement ink cartridge for that $30
printer may cost you – about $30.
It takes 2-½ ounces of oil to
produce the plastic in a new inkjet cartridge, and 3-½ quarts of oil to
make a toner cartridge, says Recharger Magazine, a trade journal for
the cartridge reuse industry. More than 250 million inkjet and toner
cartridges are disposed of in the U.S. every year, according to
And there’s really no need to throw them out. Laser toner
cartridges are reusable, and most inkjet cartridges can also be
refilled and reused a half-dozen times or more.
manufacturers try to discourage this, by issuing dire warnings of the
risks of using other inks in their printers, frequently changing the
cartridge technology and even taking remanufacturers and refillers to
But with all the money at stake, entrepreneurs have jumped
in. Refill shops are the latest trend. At these shops, you can have
your old ink cartridge refilled on the spot, or turn in your cartridge
and buy an identical one that they’ve already refilled. Three national
chains of refill shops have a total of 14 stores in the Puget Sound
area: Cartridge World (www.cartridgeworldusa.com), Island Ink-Jet
(www.islandinkjet.com) and Rapid Refill Ink (www.rapidrefillink.com).
They also sell remanufactured toner cartridges.
office-supply and drugstore chains have also gotten into the act.
Office Depot, OfficeMax and Walgreens are testing inkjet-refill service
at selected stores around the country, and will likely roll out the
service nationally soon.
The printer manufacturers insist that their
printers perform better with their own inks. Tests by Consumer Reports
in 2004 and 2005 indicated that the printer manufacturer’s brands do
perform best overall, but that some off-brands may be fine for basic
printing. Consumer Reports did not test the newer refill chains.
refill chains say the quality of their cartridges is higher than
remanufactured cartridges that have previously been available. All
three of the major refill chains with local stores guarantee their
cartridges. In some cases, the chains test refilled cartridges before
they sell them.
If you use your printer mainly for things like maps,
recipes and the kids’ homework, refilled cartridges should work just
fine. When I replaced a black ink cartridge in my home printer with one
that had been refilled by a local chain, I couldn’t tell the
difference. But for photos you’re going to keep for generations, you
may want to use the brand-name cartridges.
Because used inkjet and
toner printer cartridges have so much value for the refilling and
remanufacturing markets, you should never throw them away. Many schools
and nonprofits collect cartridges for fundraisers, and some stores also
accept them at no charge. For listings of cartridge collection programs
and locations, see the King County “What do I do with?” Web site
(www.metrokc.gov/dnrp/swd/wdidw) and select “Printing Cartridges.
all this activity, it’s a golden age of reuse for printer cartridges.
Take advantage of it now, because with all the money at stake, and the
courts involved, the picture could change quickly