Toner and Inkjet Cartridges
OverviewRemanufactured toner and inkjet cartridges offer clear advantages over new cartridges in cost, waste reduction, and sometimes even in product quality. They are suitable for use in many printers, copiers, fax machines, and other devices using all-in-one cartridges. (Imaging systems that have separate drums and toner bottles are the exception.) In remanufacturing, cartridges are disassembled, worn or defective parts are replaced, and the unit is cleaned, refilled, and reassembled. Cartridges may be remanufactured repeatedly.
Most cartridge remanufacturers accept spent cartridges, reducing user-generated waste. Some original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suppliers offer end-of-life recycling if you buy new cartridges from them. While not offering the same environmental or economic benefits as buying remanufactured cartridges, this option does prevent spent cartridges from becoming waste.
Many cartridge remanufacturers have web sites, some with an on-line store and pricing information. To readily locate the web pages of cartridge remanufacturers on the Internet, use a search engine to look for "remanufactured toner cartridges," "remanufactured inkjet cartridges," and "recycled toner cartridges."
Laws & GuidelinesFederal procurement guidelines resulting from an Executive Order recommend that agencies procure remanufacturing services for spent cartridges. If remanufacturing services are not reasonably available, the guidelines recommend purchasing remanufactured cartridges. If an agency is unable to purchase remanufactured cartridges, the preferred option is to purchase new cartridges made with recycled content. State and local governments are encouraged to use the federal guidelines.
PerformanceWhen remanufactured by reputable companies exercising good quality control, remanufactured toner and inkjet cartridges will perform as well as or better than new cartridges. Some companies also claim their products may last longer than new cartridges; they assert that some manufacturers of new cartridges do not always fill the cartridge to capacity.
Cartridge remanufacturing and recycling has improved drastically since it began in the 1980s and early 1990s. At that time, many opportunistic companies saw an easy way to make money and did not properly remanufacture cartridges. Some companies used what is now often called the "drill and fill" method to refill cartridges without taking appropriate steps to properly disassemble, refit, clean, and reassemble the cartridge. Many customers who wanted to demonstrate environmental awareness were frustrated by poor product quality and unresponsive customer service from these disreputable companies. Today's practices are far superior. Many companies deliver quality products and offer guarantees for their product.
Some companies have issued further guarantees by assuring that their cartridges will not damage machines. In the event of damage, they cover any repair costs directly attributed to a faulty cartridge.
Within the office machine industry, responses to the growing cartridge remanufacturing industry vary. Some printer manufacturers have instituted their own recycling and remanufacturing programs. However, others have responded more defensively by instituting warranty restrictions on their products if users do not use OEM cartridges or new cartridges.
Users should be wary of such warranty restrictions. Under federal law, the legality of a manufacturer requiring the purchase of their supplies as a condition of warranty is questionable. Because each customer-supplier relationship may be interpreted differently in different legal forums, purchasers of laser printers should include specifications in the original printer purchase contract that protects the user from such warranty exclusions. For further discussion, see Laser Printers Specifications.
AvailabilityRemanufactured toner and inkjet cartridges for printers are widely available through chain and local computer and office supply outlets, as well as online. Remanufactured toner cartridges for fax machines and copiers are becoming more widely available, often through remanufacturers of laser printer cartridges.
To readily locate cartridge remanufacturers on the Internet, use a search engine to look for "remanufactured toner cartridges," "remanufactured inkjet cartridges," and "recycled toner cartridges." Your local phone directory also provides local vendor options under "Office Supplies," "Computers - Supplies & Parts," "Copiers & Supplies," and "Lasers - Equipment & Services."
CostOne of the clearest advantages of using remanufactured toner or inkjet cartridges is cost savings. Compared to new cartridges, remanufactured cartridges commonly cost 30% to 50% less, depending upon the model and remanufacturer's pricing. Moreover, they often contain up to 20% more toner or ink. Remanufactured cartridges are a good value because product quality and performance can match or exceed that of new cartridges.
Some cartridge remanufacturers will accept used cartridges at no cost, or even buy them back or provide a credit, depending upon the model.
SpecificationsThere are several key issues to include in contract specifications and to keep in mind when shopping outside of a contract. Consider these issues related to the vendor's remanufacturing process and product performance.
How long has the company been in business?
What kind of references can the company provide?
Does the company use a true remanufacturing process to disassemble, replace parts, clean, refill with toner, and reassemble cartridges - not just "refill" them? What parts are replaced during the process?
Does the company test each cartridge before it is sent out? Will it provide a test page printed from each cartridge, demonstrating that it performs properly?
What is the length of the warranty coverage? Does the warranty cover any damages to equipment caused by a faulty cartridge?
Will the company accept the return of used cartridges, and for which models? Will it require one-to-one exchange, or accept any number of cartridges? Will it charge to accept used cartridges, accept cartridges at no cost, or provide a credit for each used cartridge accepted?
VendorsState of Minnesota Office Supply Connection
The state's contract with S & T Office Products makes available remanufactured cartridges for many fax, laser and ink jet machines at prices lower than new cartridges. These cartridges meet or exceed OEM performance standards and are sold with a replacement guarantee. See Office Supply Connection for information on accessing this contract.
Cooperative Purchasing -
U.S. Communities Program
Counties, cities, and schools may join the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance to access a contract with Office Depot. See Cooperative Purchasing - U.S. Communities for information on this program, or visit the U.S. Communities web site. Many types of remanufactured laser toner and inkjet printer cartridges are available at a discount through this contract, and orders may be placed over the Internet.
Remanufactured laser toner and inkjet printer cartridges are available from most office supply outlets and hundreds of independent or franchise remanufacturers. To readily locate the web pages of cartridge remanufacturers on the Internet, use a search engine to look for "remanufactured toner cartridges," "remanufactured inkjet cartridges," and "recycled toner cartridges." Your local phone directory also provides local vendor options under "Office Supplies," "Computers - Supplies & Parts," "Copiers & Supplies," and "Lasers - Equipment & Services."
Inkjet and Laser Cartridge Recycling
For information on laser toner and inkjet printer cartridge recycling programs from OEM suppliers of new cartridges, contact the manufacturer of your office machine (laser printer, inkjet printer, copier, etc.). Some larger companies offering this program include Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, and Xerox.
Inc. offers a free
program for office-wide laser toner and inkjet printer cartridge
recycling. The company pays for the collection of materials and
shipping. Details are online, or call toll free
Minnesota Waste Wise offers a free program for recycling printer cartridges. Use the online form or call 800/821-2230.
The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) offers a free kit that includes 50 prepaid envelopes for recycling ink jet cartridges through the Green Fund Network. Additional information is available from the Green Fund Network for recycling laser printer cartridges.
ResourcesMany cartridge remanufacturers have web sites, some with an on-line store and pricing information. To readily locate the web pages of cartridge remanufacturers on the Internet, use a search engine to look for "remanufactured toner cartridges," "remanufactured inkjet cartridges," and "recycled toner cartridges."
Prevents WasteRemanufactured toner cartridges save resources by reusing components instead of disposing of them after one use.
End of Life ManagementBuy from a cartridge remanufacturer or an equipment supplier that will take spent cartridges back, so you do not have to throw them away.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide published by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, 4/00. The SWMCB includes members from the Minnesota metropolitan counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington, with ex-officio members from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.Last Revised April 18, 2008 - 10:00am