2008-01-08 at 1:04:00 pm #19132
A green solution, a green reward
Entrepreneur: Ink-jet recycling helps the environment and saves you cash, too
Every time an empty printer ink-jet cartridge hits the trash can, it is joined by slightly less than three ounces of oil used in its manufacture. Multiply that by 300 million empty cartridges thrown out each year, and suddenly more than 125,000 barrels of oil wind up in the dump.
Mark Tremont thinks a growing number of people may want to help the environment while also saving a few bucks by refilling cartridges with ink rather than buying new each time. Since founding his business about 2 years ago, he has given 50,000 cartridges new life.The 59-year-old Syracuse native started in January 2005, when he opened a kiosk at Colonie Center as a franchisee of a Canadian company, Island Ink-Jet. He followed that with a store in Delmar, but ended his franchise in October 2006 to start his own business, i Fill Inkjets.Now, he’s hoping business in these environmentally sensitive times will really take off under an agreement with Golub Corp., the Rotterdam-based owner of the Price Chopper supermarket chain, to move into the photo labs of 26 stores in six states.”The biggest problem with this business is that people don’t know that we can do this,” he said. “I think more of them will see they can.”Price Chopper sees ink-jet recycling as “a wonderful opportunity” to expand its green initiatives, said spokeswoman Mona Golub. The company started offering reuseable, recycled shopping bags on Earth Day; the ink-jet recycling gives the same opportunity, she said.If environmental benefits of recycling aren’t enough for some potential customers, perhaps the bottom line will be: Refills are about half the cost of a new cartridge, which can be up to $40.
About 80 percent of used cartridges can be refilled, black ink as many as eight times and color as many as six, Tremont said. For those that cannot be reused, reasons vary — from printers being run too little or to the very end (causing print heads on cartridges to dry out) to used cartridges being stored in conditions that are too hot or too dry.Contrary to popular belief, he said, using refilled cartridges does not void the printer warranty.Tremont spent much of the summer installing equipment and training store employees in how to properly fill cartridges. “There are 300 different cartridges and only about six ways to fill them,” he said.All end with a common medical syringe filled with ink, which is injected into the cartridge. The fill hole is tiny and at the top of the cartridge, so there is no risk of leaking inside the printer, he said.Tremont spent about 30 years as an accountant for banking giants Chase and Visa before deciding to change careers with the Canadian ink-jet franchise. “I liked the environmental side and the simplicity of it,” he said.As he spoke, his cellphone went off. It was the Price Chopper store in Cortland with a question. “I’m the help desk for the stores,” Tremont said.For a list of i Fill Inkjets locations, go to: http://www.ifillinkjets. com/locations.html