• mse-big-banner-new-03-17-2016-416716a-tonernews-web-banner-mse-212
  • Print
  • 7035-overstock-banner-902x177
  • Video and Film
  • 2toner1-2
  • cartridgewebsite-com-big-banner-02-09-07-2016
  • 4toner4
  • mse-big-new-banner-03-17-2016-416616a-tonernews-web-banner-mse-114
  • 05 02 2016 429716a-cig-clearchoice-banner-902x177
  • big-banner-ad_2-sean


 user 2007-10-17 at 12:13:00 pm Views: 49
  • #19121

    Keeping cartridges out of the landfill
    Dartmouth company finds success recycling.
    When Don MacKinnon started recycling printer ribbons 15 years ago, he didn’t get into it to save the planet. He saw it as an opportunity to make a buck.”I saw niche,” said the president of Ribbons Recycled Inc. “People were throwing away mountains of printer ribbon and it occurred to me there might be a way to re-ink and reuse them. It was all about the cost factor. The emphasis on the environment came later.”The early experiments with re-inking the ribbon fabric began in the bathroom of his Dartmouth home. It took a while to figure out how to do it efficiently with oil-based inks, but he said like any good entrepreneur, he never gave up.Once he had perfected the technique he began collecting the used ribbon from businesses and reselling customers refurbished units at a discounted rate. As the business grew he hired staff to carry out the refurbishing and remanufacturing.When ribbon technology gave way to ink-jet cartridges, Mr. MacKinnon developed a way to reuse those. And now as ink-jet cartridges are making way for their laser printer cousins, they too are being recycled.

    But Mr. MacKinnon is quiet about the company’s success. He grudgingly shows off his spacious 9,000-square-foot Dartmouth warehouse where 10 employees refurbish and then test more than 5,000 cartridges a month.Another dozen to 15 workers are on the road selling and collecting cartridges from commercial clients, or working with the public through the company’s 10 retail Inkjet X-Change locations scattered throughout the region.”There are a number of companies that are recycling ink-jets or laser cartridges in the province, but most do it as a sideline to something else. As far as I know, we are the only company devoted to doing it full time.”

    Mr. MacKinnon said he long ago gave up trying to guess how many tonnes of plastic and metals his business has diverted from the landfill, but environmental websites in the U.S. estimate that every year over 300 million ink-jet cartridges are thrown away. Stacked from end to end, this would extend for more than 39,000 kilometres — enough to circle the earth.No one in Nova Scotia tracks those kinds of numbers, but Mr. MacKinnon knows there are a lot more that could be diverted. He suggests his business and those like his still only keep one in 10 cartridges out of the landfill.”I know they don’t like them at the landfill. There’s a nasty pop of black ink when they are crushed.”With proper care, he said a cartridge can be successfully refilled several times, but eventually cartridges will fail for reasons other than being out of ink. He said they are surprisingly fragile and manufacturers are making them increasingly difficult to reuse.

    Island Ink Jet is another company that helps keep ink cartridges out of the landfill by offering refurbishing services. At various times the company has had as many as three locations around Halifax, but the lone location at the moment is at Mic Mac Mall. Graham McEwan is the franchise holder.Island Ink Jet is a North American franchise with close to 230 locations.This is the second in a series of Small Business Week stories looking at Nova Scotia companies finding a green niche.