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Print cartridges go unrecycled

Well as the title suggests, businesses are failing to recycle printer cartridges.

A report from InfoTrends found this:

Key findings of the report include:

  • 80% of remanufactured toner cartridges and 86% of remanufactured inkjet cartridges are thrown away because remanufacturers have such a strong preference for cartridges that have not previously been remanufactured (aka “virgin empties”).
  • Through remanufacturing, 3rd party supplies companies are able, on average, to reduce overall demand for new cartridges by about 20%.
  • Remanufacturers surveyed generally were not aware of the details concerning the waste management service providers they utilized.
  • Transparent and public reporting of environmental performance was not available from several OEMs or any of the remanufacturers surveyed.
  • Excess and damaged cartridges, as well as non-virgin cartridges, may be sold several times to successively lower-quality remanufacturers before being discarded.
  • There are very few truly local remanufacturers; most local remanufacturers now outsource their products and no longer remanufacture directly.
  • 16% of toner cartridges and 34% of inkjet cartridges remanufacturers collect cannot be profitably remanufactured.
  • 3rd party supplies companies collect 70% more empty OEM toner cartridges and 700% more empty OEM inkjet cartridges than the OEMs themselves.

A significant amount of the cartridges collected by remanufacturers are disposed of due to damage or end of useful life, or because they are undesirable cartridges that have little or no value. The report contends that half of Europe’s laser cartridge remanufacturing waste is recycled, and 30% of inkjet cartridge remanufacturing waste is recycled or managed in some way. In addition, only about 10% of unusable laser cartridge waste is actually recycled by remanufacturers in the U.S., and almost no integrated inkjet cartridges are recycled.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and remanufacturers employ different methods and focus on different priorities when dealing with collected cartridges.

While some OEMs do not offer collection schemes for inkjet cartridges, OEMs recycle the cartridges that they do collect. In contrast, while all cartridge remanufacturing companies surveyed expressed a desire to handle cartridges in the most environmentally sound manner, they also say it is often impractical due to cost and available recycling infrastructures.

In some cases, remanufacturers’ cartridges and their components are burned or hauled away by waste management companies, but this practice varies to some extent depending on the country in question.

“OEM and 3rd party supplies vendors both have compelling stories regarding how their efforts reduce the impact of supply cartridges on the environment,” commented John Shane, a Director at InfoTrends. “At the same time, both groups can also be faulted for deficiencies in their programs. Overall, however, the imaging supplies industry can claim to be effectively reducing the impact of cartridges on the environment.”

The complete report is available immediately for purchase. For more information about the study or to make a purchase, visit our online store or contact Nicole Shown at +1 781 616 2100 ext. 207 or

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