What is Remanufacturing?
In our industry it’s reusing and refilling ink and toner printer cartridges so they can be used again. Used cartridges are collected though out the world by individuals, businesses and the remanufactures themselves. Once the empty cores are at the remanufactures location they are sorted to determine which cartridges can be remanufactured and which ones can not be used. The defective cartridges are recycled in a responsible way so they don’t enter the trash stream and end up in a local dump. They are broken down into usable components and reused. The usable cartridges are then disassembled and cleaned and any necessary replacement parts are added at this point. New toner or ink is added, and the cartridges are tested to insure that the quality is at the level of the original manufacturer. This is the process followed by the leading responsible remanufactures, the ones that really care about our industry and strive to produce a remanufactured cartridge that can meet the same quality and page yield of the original manufacturer. A properly remanufactured printer cartridge contains high quality components and gives excellent printing results. One-third of businesses nationwide use remanufactured printer cartridges and that number is growing according to Clean and Green for business. Many businesses have come to trust the quality and reliability of remanufactured cartridges, the cost savings associated with using remanufactured products and the knowledge that it is one more way to help their offices go green.
The Environment and Remanufacturing
Every year, more than 350 million plastic cartridges end up in landfills in the United States and around the world! The remanufactured industry cannot on its own completely stop the cycle of cartridges entering the waste stream but we can stem the flow. If the major OEM’s (original equipment manufacturer), HP, Dell, Epson, Canon and especially Lexmark would help in this effort we could make a serious impact on solving this dilemma. Sad to say, but they do everything in their power to keep our industry from getting our hands on the empties we need to fuel our industry and they do it all in the name of greed. The printer consumables market is a billion-dollar industry, worldwide revenue was $74 billion in 2010 according to a Lyra Research report and the aftermarket claimed 20% of the desktop inkjet revenue and 15 percent of the toner cartridge revenue. The only time an industry can claim that much of a market and continue to grow every year is if the product works, period. As they say, the proof is in the numbers. Millions of cartridges are manufactured every year and this is why remanufacturing matters. Every cartridge remanufactured is one more that does not go directly to the landfill. For every remanufactured cartridge purchased, it’s one less new cartridge that needs to be produced, saving it from entering the waste stream and from draining the planet’s natural resources. In fact, many printer cartridges end up dumped in places you’d never expect, like China, Nigeria and India which is another story of its own. Most people don’t know that when they send their empty cartridges back to the manufacturer they get shipped out to these electronic wastelands and believe me they are not being recycled.
Get Quality while Saving Money
Of course many businesses and individuals use remanufactured because they want to be environmentally sensitive but the main reason is to save money. Most remanufactured cartridges cost considerably less than the OEM cartridges and are of comparable quality and reliability. In fact a little known fact is many remanufactured cartridges last longer than the original because they have up to 20% more ink or toner. Believe it or not many of the printer cartridges can hold more ink or toner than they do but the OEM’s don’t fill them to capacity so you the consumer will have to buy more of them each year. In short printer cartridges don’t need to be so expensive. In order to protect their profit margins, the OEMs often claim that non-OEM cartridges might damage your printer. No manufacturer (or remanufacturer) can guarantee that a cartridge will never fail, but there is little chance that a toner or ink cartridge could ever affect the functionality of a printer or fax machine. Plus many remanufacturers offer guarantees promising to repair any possible related damage; due to the excellent quality of remanufactured products, this is an offer they almost never have to make good on. Have you ever heard any of the OEMs make this offer?
The Customer Deserves a Choice
Another point that the consumer is not made aware of is that the OEMs design their cartridges so as to discourage reusing them or remanufacturing them. So how can the OEMs on the one hand say they are pro recycling and ask that you send your empties back to them but they make every attempt to design their cartridges so as not to be easily remanufactured, it makes no sense. They are playing both sides of the fence and the public should be made aware of this. It would benefit both the environment and the consumer if the cartridges were designed so that they could be reused more easily. No car manufacturer would be allowed to require consumers to buy its own brand of gasoline. Consumers deserve a choice and third party suppliers and remanufacturers provide that option.
Environmentally Friendly & Saves Energy
When cartridges are remanufactured, not only is pollution prevented from going into landfills, but fewer new materials must be produced. The plastic in each toner cartridge takes three and a half quarts of oil to produce, and each new ink jet cartridge requires two and a half ounces of oil. Half a gallon of oil is conserved for each laser cartridge that is returned for remanufacturing. Another benefit of reusing cartridges is it saves energy. It requires significantly less energy to remanufacture a cartridge than to produce a new one which saves energy and the natural resources used to produce power. It even takes less energy to remanufacture products than it does to recycle them. The reason is recycling converts components back into raw material, which is used to manufacture an original product while remanufacturing captures a large percentage of resources from the original product.
Remanufactruing is the Better Choice
So it’s more than obvious that remanufacturing is the best way to save products from the landfill, save the consumer money and help everyone take one step closer to going green. But remanufacturing can only take place if we, the aftermarket industry have access to empty cartridges. A staggering 64 percent of home printer users in the US simply throw away their empty inkjet cartridges. 37 percent of laser users throw their toner cartridges in the dump, this has to change. The OEM manufactures are doing everything in their power to stop the remanufacturing industry by inserting return bags, boxes and labels with all of the printer cartridges they sell in an attempt to get the consumer to mail back their empties to them under the guise of recycling. What their not telling the public is that they are tearing down these cartridges into their respective components and recycling the raw materials. Profits for these large manufactures comes from the manufacturing and selling of new printer cartridges, they don’t want to be bothered with remanufacturing even though it’s the right thing to do. A report from the U.S Department of Energy Office of Industrial Technologies say’s in part, “Toner cartridges are particularly difficult to recycle because they are composed of several different types of plastics and must be completely dismantled and sorted. In addition, the cartridges are dirty, dusted with toner and contain non-plastic parts, which require disposal. The report goes on to say, “Remanufacturing, on the other hand, calls for cartridges to be cleaned, inspected and refilled, reusing the majority of the original plastic parts. For every cartridge that is remanufactured, over a pound of plastics is withheld from the waste stream.” So choosing a high quality remanufactured ink or toner cartridges is one way you can help reduce the environmental impact of printer cartridges on our environment while at the same time saving money for yourself or your business. There are many very reputable remanufactures out there like Ink & Toner Solutions that carry and sell only the highest quality cartridges that the industry is producing and stands behind each sale. If you haven’t tried a remanufactured ink or toner cartridge it’s about time you did, if you have tried them in the past, give it another shot as our industry has come a long way in the area of quality.