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Print And Reprint: Remanufacturing Printer and Toner Cartridges

Every year about 350 million printer cartridges are discarded; many of them wind up in landfills. It takes about 3.5 quarts of oil to make a new toner cartridge and 2 oz. of oil to make a new inkjet cartridge. We all know that recycling the ink cartridges from our computer printers and toner cartridges from our copiers is a good thing to do. Precious metals can be recaptured and materials reused again. But do you know the difference between recycling and remanufacturing programs?

Most printer cartridges can be remanufactured to original specs and perform as well as newly made ones. Better yet, they will set your pocketbook back between 20-40% less than new ones (depending on brand), while saving precious energy and resources.

But it’s important to note that print cartridges can not only be recycled to recapture materials; they can be reused and refilled again and again.  Some manufacturers would prefer that you buy a new one each time and return the empties to them to grind up so that they can sell you a new one. But Cartridge World refurbishes and refills spent printer cartridges to like-new standards.

Waste Management’s LampTracker and Cartridge World, the largest dedicated seller of remanufactured cartridges, recently began working together.  They’ve set themselves a few notable goals:

  1. First, they want to Increase the number of used printer cartridges (both toner and ink) collected and remanufactured.
  2. Second, they want to raise awareness of the quality and savings of using remanufactured cartridges. There are a lot of good reasons to buy remanufactured:
  • Remanufactured cartridges cost less, and perform just as well as new.
  • Remanufactured cartridges reduce landfill waste and conserve non-renewable natural resources.
  • Each discarded laser cartridge adds approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic waste to our landfills – waste that will take as long as 1,000 years to decompose.

There are many myths about remanufactured cartridges – mostly supported by original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to try to scare people into using OEM cartridges over remanufactured.  But remanufacturing by certified facilities follows strict specifications, involves inspection of empties, replacement of parts if necessary and quality testing before they go to market. Here’s the 10 step process for remanufacturing toner cartridges:

Remanufactured cartridges are essentially ink and toner cartridges that are remanufactured using the empty cores. Remanufacturers, like Clover Tech­nologies Group, collect empty cartridges, inspect, clean and replace key components including: the OPC (Organic Photo Conductor) drum, wiper blade, PCR (Primary Charge Roller) and magnetic roller. Remanufactured cartridges are sold through leading office products distributors and resellers and marketed under a variety of private label brands.Here’s the 8 step process for remanufacturing ink cartridges:

Always remember: reuse comes before recycling.  Remanufacturing is the more environmentally responsible choice for printer cartridges. Besides reducing consumption, reuse is the highest form of environmental responsibility. It doesn’t use non-renewable resources to break­down and reform plastic and metal; it saves the energy and engineering that’s already gone into making the product. A cartridge and all its components should always first be evaluated for remanufacturing. If remanufacturing is not possible, then responsible recycling should be pursued.

In an effort to increase the collection of used printer cartridges, WM LampTracker (the same folks who brought you at-home collection and recycling of CFL bulbs and household batteries) developed 3 sizes of collection/shipping boxes for printer cartridges. These are free – including the shipping!  Go to WMLampTracker.com , click on the “products” drop-down menu, then click on cartridge recycling.

Looking for an easy place to buy remanufactured cartridges? Try PrintClub.  Their cartridges cost a lot less than original equipment cartridges and Greenopolis and MatterMore  readers can get a 5% discount through use of this Promo Code: “WMSAVING”.  Just enter it when you check out and you’ll save even more on your remanufactured cartridge. Helping the planet pays off.

I tried my first couple of cartridges from PrintClub. They work great, and they even provided me with an e-label, all postage paid, that I could print out to send my old cartridges back to them for remanufacture.

I even get to check off a box for a donation to a worthwhile cause, like Make-A-Wish Foundation or Keep America Beautiful!

So don’t just dump your print cartridges in the bin at the Big Box store- they may be headed for the shredder. Send them to LampTracker for remanufacture and reuse. There’s a lot more lifetimes in those cartridges before they have to be recycled!

About godsdoghowls

I'm Senior Manager for Community Engagement and Development at Greenopolis.com; a hunter and naturalist, rabbinic student and maple sugar maker, husband of Sara and father of 5 terrific children.


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