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 user 2007-07-25 at 11:52:00 am Views: 51
  • #18461

    Printer Cartridges Still Being Thrown Away
    used printer cartridges are thrown away with less than half re-used or
    even recycled, according to a new report from InfoTrends.

    2007Most used printer cartridges are thrown away with less than half
    re-used or even recycled, according to a new report from InfoTrends.The
    printer supplies industry is failing to support environmental goals
    with OEMs and focusing on new cartridge sales and printer supply profit
    mountains. Meanwhile, some appear to see recycling – where the whole
    cartridge is broken down – as a neat way to avoid cartridge re-filling,
    which hurts profits.It also appears that the WEEE directive is making
    it more difficult to re-use printer cartridges, an example perhaps of
    the law of unintended consequences.

    In the report, “2007
    Supplies Recycling: US and Europe,” it is clear that original printer
    manufacturers (OEMs) and re-manufacturers – 3rd party suppliers of
    refilled toner and ink cartridges – are competing to collect used
    cartridges. The OEMs will recycle them; have them broken down into
    component materials, while the re-manufacturers will try to profitably
    refill and resell cartridges, at lower prices than brand new
    cartridges.”Like a milk bottle, a printer cartridge contains a
    consumable. Once used up the cartridge could be used again, re-filled
    with ink or toner, and supplied to customers. A combination of
    re-use-unfriendly product design and printer OEM reluctance to support
    re-use is leading to most used cartridges either being thrown away or
    recycled into components.

    Third-party supplies companies collect
    70 percent more empty OEM toner cartridges and 700 percent more empty
    OEM inkjet cartridges than the OEMs themselves.Collection is difficult
    as customers may be expected to post used cartridges back to a recycler
    or re-manufacturer. The cost of the postage can exceed the value of a
    returned empty cartridge to a re-manufacturer. The recently introduced
    WEEE directive will not help re-manufacturers as empty cartridges will
    go to local authority or other recycling centers – effectively out of
    reach of the re-manufacturers.

    Recycling appears to be endorsed
    by printer OEMs as a way of stopping used cartridges getting into the
    hands of re-manufacturers who could then undercut the OEM’s printer
    cartridge prices. The report finds that ‘Through re-manufacturing, 3rd
    party supplies companies are able, on average, to reduce overall demand
    for new cartridges by about 20 percent.’ It suggests that some printer
    manufacturers, such as Xerox and Lexmark, are beginning to realize that
    re-use is better than recycling.

    Re-use of toner and ink
    cartridges is made more difficult by the profusion of different types.
    If there were only a few standard sizes and type of cartridge, such as
    batteries with AA standard sizes, then re-use would be much easier.
    Cartridges are also not designed for re-use. That is why
    re-manufacturers prefer so-called virgin empties, cartridges used once
    only. Each use cycle lessens the likelihood that the cartridge can be
    profitably used again.The report finds that ’80 percent of
    re-manufactured toner cartridges and 86 percent of re-manufactured
    inkjet cartridges are thrown away’ because it is uneconomic to refill
    them again.While printer manufacturers sell printers as loss leaders
    and make the bulk of their profit on brand new cartridge sales, this is
    just not likely to happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if HP stopped trumpeting
    about the amount of material it was recycling and instead put effort,
    with other printer manufacturers, into having cartridges designed for
    re-use and supporting a re-use infrastructure. Now that really would
    show commitment to the environment.The report does find that, in
    general, the printer supplies industry is helping to reduce the amount
    of cartridges ending up in landfill, but with more than half of the
    billions of cartridges bought new every year being thrown away when
    empty, that is faint praise.