The European Parliament wants printer makers to manufacture reusable and
recyclable printer ink cartridges, and to refrain from forcing consumers to buy
their own-brand refills. The Parliament voted on Wednesday to ratify the Waste
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which includes provisions
requiring companies to make their products easier to reuse and recycle.
The directive includes a “product design” provision aimed at preventing
printer manufacturers from using technology in printer ink cartridges to keep
them from being recycled or reused by refilling the cartridge with ink.
Manufacturers used these “clever chips” to get around recycling rules, the
The aim of the directive is to compel member states to minimize the disposal
by consumers of so-called electroscrap as unsorted municipal waste. The European
Union wants to ensure that IT and telecommunications equipment, such as computer
mainframes, minicomputers, PCs and notebooks, and peripherals including
printers, can be reused or recycled in some manner if possible.
Printer companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark
International may suffer financially from such a law – revenues from nonreusable
cartridges could be significantly affected.
The Parliament’s directive also calls for printer companies to build
technical design features into printer ink cartridges at the production stage
that allows for the dismantling and recovery of the used cartridges for reuse.