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Cartridge World Aims to Make a Dent in Ink Cartridge Waste

| Monday April 17th, 2006 | 11 Comments

ink_cart.jpgWhen I was at Ecosa, one of the coolest projects we did was a redesign of ink cartridge packaging, which is absurdly wasteful. In many cases it took up more plastic than the cartridge itself. We learned that this was a theft-prevention measure as, amazingly, they were the number one theft item at the Staples we did our reaserch at. We also learned about a local company that would refill almost any ink cartrige for you for a fee (less than buying new) which seemed like both a great eco-friendly idea and a great business!
Anyway, I got to thinking about the demand for these things, which, given the amount of spam I recieve on the subject has to be monumental. I came up with a crazy business idea to sell them from vending machines with extremely minimal packaging made of whatever recycled material was at hand. The same vending machines could take-back your empties and give you new ones at some kind of discount. And the thing could be solar powered, etc…. I still think it’s a good idea for highly urban areas where people might walk from their offices to a machine, but for most of America, it might not work so well.
Enter “Cartridge World“…


These guys have managed to build a pretty massive business offering refills for almost any kind of ink cartridges at an astonishing 1000+ locations all over the world. Based in Australia, they estimate they’ll keep 9 million ink cartridges out of landfills this year. They offer the following ten resons to use refilled cartridges:
1. It takes nearly a gallon (3-1/2 quarts) of oil to produce a new laser printer cartridge, and 2-1/2 ounces of oil to manufacture each new inkjet cartridge.
2. In the United States, printer cartridges are thrown away at a rate of eight per second and this is expected to increase by 12% annually.
3. More than 350 million printer cartridges go into North American landfills every year.
4. The total weight of cartridges thrown away each year in this country is equivalent to 67,612 Ford Explorers or 112,463 Volkswagen Beetles.
5. In a single year, the world’s discarded cartridges stacked end-to-end would circle the earth three times.
6. Most printer cartridges contain mixed resin plastics, the most difficult type of plastic to recycle.
7. Toner residue can seldom be completely separated from the cartridge’s plastic, thus contaminating the plastic and making it even less likely to be recycled.
8. A laser printer cartridge thrown into a landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose (while components made of industrial-grade plastic will take over a thousand years).
9. Reusing printer cartridges saves energy and the natural resources used to produce power while reducing greenhouse gases.
10. Every reused cartridge saves nearly 3.5 pounds of solid waste from being deposited into landfills.
I don’t know anything about what packaging they use (if any), but if they steal my vending machine idea I want some credit!


▼▼▼      11 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • haiki

    Think about any ink cartridge, for example, HP ink cartridge that has a warranty. Bad ink cartridge, color bad, light ink which appears watery, what-ever, they give you another one. That’s the way a warranty works. You buy a recycled ink cartridge, with no HP warranty. It may work momentarily, but then you get these same messages, remove cartridge. Why should my printer shut down after purchasing a recycled ink cartridge? But then if you buy an HP ink cartridge, your printer is up and running again. Or until that time HP thinks you have printed long enough, even if you have plenty of ink.
    HP forces you, according to HP predetermined usage, in order for your printer to work, to buy their ink cartridges, or HP will shut your printer down.
    But HP said the [HP initiated lawsuits] aren’t a change in HP’s policy that customers have a right to refill legally purchased cartridges or buy refilled cartridges. “We still believe it’s the customer’s choice,” said spokeswoman Monica Sarkar, adding that HP believes its products have better quality and reliability.
    HP printing executive Pradeep Jotwani said in a 2003 interview, “We consciously make sure that our cartridges are reusable and refillable,” [He's talking about cartridges returned to HP for recycling] The company does put some limits on the practice, such as adding software that makes some of its cartridges unusable after a certain expiration date–either four-and-a-half years after its manufacture or two-and-a-half years after its installation.
    Can Mr. Potwani tell the world, under what specific technical conditions, and reason, has determined that the ink cartridge has failed…..before the expiration date, or after purchasing a recycled ink cartridge, making my printer inoperable? And can he tell the world, a consumer would like to know exactly what is the meaning of legally purchased cartridges or legally refilled cartridges. An answer would be crucial to HP’s credibility on the issue.
    Don’t focus on the ink cartridge, focus on the fact HP, and other printer manufacturers, stop your printer from working, because of some silly game they are playing of cheating customers before the ink runs out, or wrong ink standards, or what-ever. I say, go ahead send these stupid messages, but don’t stop my printer from working. This is anti-competitive, and in violation of anti-trust laws.
    To be perfectly clear
    Hewlett Packard recycles their ink cartridges by promoting that HP cartridges be returned for recycling, using a self addressed, stamped envelope. Allowing HP, through their “refurbishing and reselling” effort to conserve resources, using the various recycling facilities of manufacturers around the world contracted by HP. Thus, the mere fact that there also are other recyclers available to refurbish, and recycle ink cartridges, but except for lower cost, and the free choice of the consumer, HP has restricted the consumer the full use, and the operation of HP printers.
    Smith and Roberson’s Business Law, ninth edition. West Publishing. Chapter 43; ANTITRUST.
    “Characterizing a type of restraint as per se illegal therefore has a significant effect on the prosecution of an antitrust suit. In such a case, the plaintiff need only show that the type of restraint occurred, she does not need to prove that the restraint limited competition…..Tying arrangements. A tying arrangement occurs when the seller of a product, service, or intangible (the “tying” product) conditions its sale on the buyers purchasing a second product, service, or intangible (the “tied” product) from the seller….Because tying arrangements limit buyers’ freedom of choice and may exclude competitors, the law closely scrutinizes such agreements.”
    Hewlett Packard has, unbeknownst to customers who purchased HP printers (tying product), tied as a condition, the purchase of new HP ink cartridges (tied product), or HP recycled ink cartridges, through the use illegal anti-competitive consumer practices.
    After all, what are we talking about, it’s a ball point pen refill morphed into a printer ink cartridge. It’s a recycled auto part! Again, I say Hewlett Packard, and the rest of the conspirators, play your silly games by cheating consumers on ink cost, and supplies. I say go ahead! But don’t stop me from the use of my printer.

  • Brett

    I hope Cartridge World don’t steal your idea!! Cartridge World provide a good and valuable service for those who don’t want to refill their own cartridges, but according to an article I saw they have a few challenges to face:
    http://printer.ink-cartridge.com.au/cartridge-world-doomed-to-failure
    Brett

  • http://www.smacomm.com anthony pascale

    Good Morning,
    You wanna sell ink cartridges I have the right audience. I house and maintain opt-in email and postal on over 11 million B2B records with full contact information. And I’m not talking about Dry cleaners and Laundry Mats. I’m talking companies that are fully office based. If you do not make your companies decision then forward this to the one that does.
    I’m looking to get in-touch with the person or the agency that handles your online marketing efforts. Can you please send me the marketing departments’ phone and/or a contact in that department. Hope to hear from you 
    Thanks in advance.
    Anthony Pascale
    COO- DATA GURU, the guy that tossed out the box
    SMA Communications LLC | W: http://www.smacomm.com
    P: 954.566.2510 Ext 104
    Over 1 billion records delivered in 2007

  • rajesh

    cartridge is a section of the printer.when it does`t has ink it will not be able to print the stuffs.some cartridge does`t have good quality that is it`s ink and some has good quality of printing. Well recycling cartridge is not an bad idea as it would decrease the cost.
    =================================================================================
    raj
    Save up to 65% on ink from HP, Epson, Lexmark, Canon & other major printer ink brands from ConcordSupplies.com
    printer ink

  • http://www.concordsupplies.com/printer-ink.html jerryflower

    Redesigning of ink cartridge is really a tough task. You feel it was wasteful, but you learn something new from this project. This is satisfactory for you.
    ___________________________________________
    jerry
    printer ink

  • rajesh

    cartridge is a section of the printer.when it does`t has ink it will not be able to print the stuffs.some cartridge does`t have good quality that is it`s ink and some has good quality of printing. Well recycling cartridge is not an bad idea as it would decrease the cost.
    =================================================================================
    raj
    Save up to 65% on ink from HP, Epson, Lexmark, Canon & other major printer ink brands from ConcordSupplies.com
    printer ink

  • http://www.concordsupplies.com/ink-cartridges.html william rozar

    Magazine is a division of the laser copier. At what time it do has ink it will not be talented to publish the stuff. Some magazine does not have good eminence that is it is ink and a little has high-quality of print. Sound recycle sealed unit is not an awful initiative as it would diminish the outlay.
    ____________________________
    william rozar
    Great Deals on Printer Ink Cartridges – Up to 65% Off HP, Espon, Lexmark, Dell, Canon and more.
    [url=http://www.concordsupplies.com/ink-cartridges.html]Ink Cartridges[/url]

  • http://www.concordsupplies.com/ink-cartridges.html william rozar

    Magazine is a division of the laser copier. At what time it do has ink it will not be talented to publish the stuff. Some magazine does not have good eminence that is it is ink and a little has high-quality of print. Sound recycle sealed unit is not an awful initiative as it would diminish the outlay.
    ____________________________
    william rozar
    Great Deals on Printer Ink Cartridges – Up to 65% Off HP, Espon, Lexmark, Dell, Canon and more.
    Ink Cartridges

  • tech goddess

    Everyone is happy to sell you reman’ed inkjets and laser cartridges, but no one is willing to take back someone else’s reman’ed product to recycle again. It’s a warranty issue. If they reman a cartridge someone else already goofed up, they may have to pay to replace it. We have lots of reman’ed cartridges, but no place to send them to for either recycling or reman’ing.
    PS, sometimes you can get your HP to reaccept your inkjet if you take it out of the printer and reinstall it as if you were putting in a new one. Often the printer will think you installed a new one. I think the printer only counts how many sheets are printed, so it gives the signal to replace when it thinks you need one. Many of us can see for ourselves that the ink is getting worse.

    • Ko

      I don’t think this is true. Many companies such as Canon and HP have long-standing cartridge take-back programs, Canon just marked the 20th aniversery of it’s program. If the retailers selling these products refuse take-back or cannot provide information on this you should report them to the company providing the cartridge.

      On the other hand, inkjet cartrige refill kits are available to do it yourself and this is simpler, faster and more energy efficient since it eliminates shipping.

      For example:

      Take-back

      1. Ship new catriduge to store.
      2. Consumer travel to/from store.
      3. Consumer travel to/from store to return catridge.
      4. Ship back to factory for refill.
      5. Repeat steps 1 & 2 for each refill.

      Wow, that’s a big carbon footprint for that little thing.

      If you buy 2 or 3 refils when you buy the carridge and keep them handy, lots of shipping is avoided.

      Reduce
      Reuse
      Recycle

      Work smart.

      4.

  • Ko

    A very simple way to reduce theft and packaging is for stores to display handing cards or tags hich are then exchanged at a counter for the products.

    This is very commonly done in Asia such as Japan, China and Taiwan.

    Using such system, products like ink cartridges can be sealed in a bag (to prevent drying) and placed in a minimally sized recycled cardboard box, which minimize shipping costs and energy as well.

    Regarding refills, in Asia we can commonly buy refill kits at the computer or stationary shop which contain the ink required. This eliminated shipping cartridges back for refill.