You can buy remanufactured toner cartridges
yourself. About 23% of cartridges used in Britain are remanufactured
and they are less expensive than the original manufacturer’s
cartridges and many are guaranteed to give good results for the
life of the cartridge. Cartridges are sometimes remanufactured
several times. (Many remanufacturers will only use cartridges
that have had a single use.) We do not currently supply remanufactured
cartridges and suggest that a web search using “remanufactured
laser printer cartridges UK” will produce a list of suppliers.
c) RETURN EMPTIES
If you do not wish to refill yourself,
you can return your empty cartridges for professional remanufacturing.
You will not save as much money in this way as refilling your
own cartridges but you will be effectively recycling the cartridge.
To resell (or give to charity) your empty cartridges try
d) RETURN EMPTIES that cannot be
remanufactured for material recycling.
Until recently we could not suggest a
green way to dispose of empty cartridges after they have been
refilled until they are worn out or indeed empty remanufactured
cartridges which are generally not acceptable for remanufacturing
another time. We are now pleased to say that Impact Recycling
Ltd offer a collection service and will strip and re granulate
the plastic content of worn out empties, at least in Kent, Sussex,
Essex and London. http://www.impactrecycling.co.uk/
Often the only effect of a chip is to
cause the printer to show incorrectly that toner is low when a
refilled cartridge is used. Some printer models use the same basic
cartridge but require the cartridge to carry the correct chip
for the model. This complicates supply to an extent. We can supply
replacement chips for many of the cartridges that use them along
with our bottled toner.
Environmental benefits of refilling with
There are two sides to the environmental
benefit from refilling cartridges.
a) Fewer natural, non renewable resources are used.
Between 1 and 2 litres of oil is used
in the manufacture of a typical laser printer cartridge. For each
refill of toner one less cartridge is made and this amount of
oil is saved. As oil is a non renewable natural resource, refilling
your cartridges makes a significant contribution to its conservation.
Other materials used in the manufacture of a cartridge include
aluminium and steel. Approximately 44 million laser printer cartridges
are sold each year in Europe. 73.5% of these are used only once.
The UK is particularly poor in this respect and 95% are only used
once. Around 48 million ink jet cartridges are sold in Europe
each year, 81% of these are only used once and each contains around
70 grams of oil.
b) Less non-biodegradable plastic
and other material is disposed of in landfills.
The majority of discarded laser printer cartridges are disposed
of in land fill. This amounts to some 10,000 tonnes of material
a year in Britain. The plastic and other material in the cartridge
will not degrade for many centuries.
It is clear that by reusing
your laser printer and ink jet cartridges you are taking an environmentally
responsible line and making a significant contribution.
What are the issues in this area at the moment?
Even though sales of laser printers in Europe
were stagnant in 2001, sales of cartridges grew strongly with
sales of OEM cartridges rising by 8%. Growth has continued since
then. This means that more are being used per printer. Whilst
this may be partly due to increased print volumes, a major part
of the growth is due to the trend to print more pages including
graphics that use more toner per page. This increases the relative
importance and benefit of refilling cartridges over replacing
them. The predictions into the future include a large increase
in the proportion of colour output on laser printers with a corresponding
growth in both the numbers and value of cartridges used right
across the world.
The majority of printer supplies all round
the world are from the Original Equipment Manufacturers. They
charge high prices and derive good profits from the consumables
they sell. (Some do include recycled parts.) They naturally strive
to protect their lucrative business. There is a continuing battle
in the market place between the Original Equipment Manufacturers
and companies selling refilled cartridges.
The benefits of refilling and reuse of the
cartridges are widely recognised but inertia and occasional problems
with commercially refilled cartridges mean that still the majority
buy OEM. For instance the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
has mandated the use of remanufactured cartridges for all Federal
There has been a lot of controversy recently
about the policy started by Lexmark of giving a discount on their
own cartridges for certain printers on the basis that they are
NOT refilled. This is the condition for the discount. The remanufacturing
industry worldwide does not like this restrictive practice as
it affects their market. They have successfully campaigned against
it in New York State, so that public bodies cannot buy printers
where such restrictive practices are in place. These restrictions
are generally ignored and Lexmark do not appear to take action
against those using remanufactured or refilled "Prebate"
The Original Equipment Manufacturers are continually
striving to protect their lucrative position in the supplies market
in other ways. Recently some manufacturers have added chips to
their cartridges. This makes refilling and remanufacturing more
difficult as it takes a while for the remanufacturers to copy
the chips. Lexmark have recently taken legal action against the
manufacturer of such a replacement chip and the action has taken
some years to be resolved. News in 2006 is that they have lost
The pressure for the reduction of the amount
of waste disposed of in landfill and increasing emphasis on manufacturers’
responsibility to consider and plan for the whole life of a product,
including its eventual disposal, are both current issues in Britain
and Europe. The WEE ( Waste Electrical and Electronic) directive
finally came into force in July 2006 after many delays and it
creates obligations on the supply chain in respect of the disposal
of end of life equipment. Its operation is going to take a while
to grind into action! Reuse of laser printer cartridges by all
different means is likely to grow.
Amidst all the confusion surrounding
the classification and handling of waste and the licensing of
waste disposal, it is interesting to note that laser printer cartridges
were at one stage added to to the list of "hazardous waste"
and have subsequently been removed again from that classification.
As the components are not intrinsically hazardous that makes good
sense but it supports the view that although generally the direction
and intent of the recent wave of regulation may be good, the practical
implementation has been completely shambolic!
We present a list of links to other sites that you may find useful
or interesting covering environmentally sound ways of saving money
in the office environment.