It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Refill your empty printer cartridge


Printer cartridges can be pricey. And if you don't take your old one in when getting a new one, it's darn near impossible to pick it out of the sea of options behind the counter at (insert big box office supply store of your choice).

But what if you took your printer cartridge in to be refilled? It's a win-win situation, according to ECO Cartridge Store owner, Vic Swan. Win: You save money. By having your cartridge refilled you can save at least 40%. Win: That old cartridge stays out of landfills. A good thing, considering some printer cartridges are made out of industrial grade plastics that take a long, long time to decompose.

Swan's ECO Cartridge Store was the first to open on Seattle's eastside in July of 2005. There are now other refill stores popping up around the area, but those are mainly franchised. By owning his own store, Swan says it gives him the flexibility to better serve the community and meet the needs of his local clients. He says business has been pretty good and he's even thinking about opening up more ECO Cartridge Stores.

One of the main challenges in this business though is the very thing they're dependent on - the printer cartridge manufacturers themselves. For obvious reasons (they sell less new printer cartridges) manufacturers don't like these type of stores. In addition to pushing legislation and regulations designed to hurt the refilling stores, manufacturers have started putting microchips in each cartridge. The purpose of the chip is to make the cartridge think it's empty even if it has been filled with new ink. ECO Cartridge Store employee, Dominic, showed me a chip resetter, a small, hand held device that is placed over the chip to 'reset' it into thinking it is full. However, companies like Canon, one of the more eco-frinedly manufacturers, have begun making a chip that isn't easily reset. Now the race is on for a new chip resetter, apparently a company in the UK has the lead so far. (A note on Canon - according to their website, they boast a 100% recovery rate on all toner and ink cartridges.)

To the manufacturers credit, many do offer cartridge recycling services, such as Lexmark, where you can request a mailing envelope from the company and send your used cartridge back at their expense. However, where all the empty cartridges end up after that is not so openly disclosed. (I called Lexmark to find out what happens with the collected cartridges. After holding a few minutes with tech support, the call center representative told me there is no other number available that I can call. I would have to write a letter to one of the addresses listed on the website for an answer.)

So until I hear back from Lexmark, I'll assume all those empty plastic cartridges are destined for landfills in some form or another. In which case I think refilling the cartridge is probably the best way to go. Especially since the quality and performance of the refilled cartridge is exactly the same as buying a new one. At ECO Cartridge Store, Swan uses over 100 different types of ink to match the original equipment manufacturers and tests every cartridge before it leaves the store. And with 100% satisfaction guarantee, how can you go wrong?

12 Comments:

  • I'm so intrigued by this. This is a petpeeve of mine. The price of cartridges is ridiculous. Your a genius for putting this out there and hopefully giving entrepenurs? a way to make some money and save the environment. Love it, Love it, Love it. Great info on the gas too. Thats how I ended up on your blog.

    By Anonymous fridagirl, at 10:19  

  • I live in Australia and had a discussion with a Canon representative about the discepancy between their apparent Environmental policy and their actual practice of switching off printer functions if refilled cartridges are used, discouraging people from using refills. I guess when my refilled cartridges destroy my Canon printer I'll try and find a more environmentally responsible manufacturer. All the money in the world, and the sound economic management by our major corporations and governments (coupled with the spending/consumption practices of the average consumer), and will NOT be worth a a pinch of goat dung when we have nowhere to live!!

    By Anonymous Leigh Jensen, at 00:52  

  • I couldn't agreed more, i reckon companies like these should really start looking at ink refills...for both the environment and our pocket's sake.

    They're the ones with the big money and definitely have the resources to do so. I guess it all comes down to their profit margins.

    They will lose a big sales number if they start to add ink refill kits into their product range. Not sure if many of you know this, but generic ink cartridges are being imported from overseas with some costing less than $0.80 each. These are obviously third party companies.

    Now can you imagine how much it'll cost Canon, Hp, Lexmark, Epson to make these printer cartridges and how much are they selling these??? Not to mention the huge demand, which is really a setup that leaves consumers with no choice, as soon as they're stuck with their printer.

    By Anonymous My Printer, at 01:03  

  • hi guys, my name is Shabbir, iam from Dubai, U.A.E. I have been in business for long. Tried different stuffs but dint work. Im now focused on cartridge refillings. After reading the blog, i have realized that its business and even a good gesture to save envirnoment at the same. Can anyone help me in achieving my motive of providing people with a cost effective solution with a better service and envirnomental favouring stuff. Needs some better tips and leads for the success of my concern which is even your concern, a clean and better envirnoment for us and for the next generation as well. Would appreciate your kind help.
    Thanks & Regards/

    By Blogger Shabbir Mandvawala, at 12:37  

  • Refilling is the easiest option to save money on printing cost and also get good quality printing.
    Refilling is more easy because of the refilling kit which is available with full of instruction for refilling Inkjet Printer Cartridge process.

    By Blogger steve, at 02:19  

  • The consumer when educated will see compatible or reilling their own cartridges is the most effective alternative.

    By Anonymous Jim How, at 11:06  

  • The time difference tells the GPS receiver how far away the satellite is. Now, with distance measurements from a few more satellites, the receiver can determine the user's position and display it on the unit's electronic map.

    By Anonymous GPS Navigation, at 08:28  

  • This looks like a good thing to do. The laser toner cartridges are really expensive to buy! refill toner is better.

    By Blogger fox, at 03:40  

  • I checked with a printer cartridge refiller BEFORE buying my next all in one printer. I had an hp 4500 which prints well, can be refilled - but its scanner makes a tuk-tuk noise the first time when it starts. Also the ADF doesnt work properly. Im a fan of canon cameras and thought of buying a canon printer too. But when I checked the refill guy said the model that i was planning to buy - MX360 canon cannot be refilled, as it will show empty even after the refill. I guess, I will stick to HP.Canon, u lost me.

    By Blogger Jayk.Dubai, at 05:35  

  • By Blogger Amelia Davis, at 06:45  

  • I must say that this post is the most relevant article I’ve ever read and saw. It’s a great help to everyone who is looking for this information.
    empty cartridges

    By Blogger Empty express, at 16:43  

  • There are many online and Offline Retail store sale Ink for refill cartridges for your printer, We offers Up to save 70% with us for more go here

    By Blogger ronnie luke, at 04:18  

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