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INKJET CARTRIDGES:

SMALL THINGS CAN MAKE
A BIG DIFFERENCE

While environmental recycling efforts have grown world wide, inkjet printer cartridges have been leftbehind in the United States. In Europe, nearly 80% of inkjet cartridges are remanufactured. It is thereverse in the United States where only 20% of inkjet cartridges are remanufactured for reuse. Despitethis low percentage, the current remanufacturing industry makes a huge environmental impact in thefollowing ways:

1. Over 38,000 tons of plastic and metal are saved from landfills each year.
2. The plastic used in these cartridges would take more than ten centuries to decompose.
3. Oil is used in the production of cartridges and in seven months time, cartridge remanufacturing will save 11 million gallons of oil, or more than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez.
4. Remanufacturing requires less energy than producing a new cartridge, produces fewer by products, and creates less waste.

In addition, remanufactured inkjet cartridges have several other benefits. Generally, a remanufactured cartridge cost between 40% to 50% less than a new one. Taxpayers also save money sincere manufactured cartridges are restored without ever entering a waste stream. Even if the plastic and metal are reclaimed through a recycling program, that process costs tax dollars and consumes energy. With remanufactured cartridges, a quality product is produced. In fact, remanufacturing technology hasbecome so precise that remanufactured cartridges often exceed the original equipment manufacturer's standards, either in quality of print or in page output. As this industry has grown, the availability of remanufactured cartridges has increased through local remanufacturers, product placement in majorstore chains, and over the internet.

With all of these benefits, why do Americans still throw out so many good used cartridges? Part of theproblem is awareness, but as more and more companies develop collection programs and there are more outlets for information distribution, lack of knowledge is beginning to fade. Additionally, originalequipment manufacturers actively encourage the purchase of new cartridges. Although an exaggeration,it is like an automobile manufacturer producing a car without a gas cap. Run out of gas and buy a newcar. Inkjet cartridges have a longer life than one use. Many cartridges can be refilled six or eight times before there is a degradation in quality.

Part of the problem is also that an empty inkjet cartridge is small and light weight. A used inkjet cartridge can weigh as little as an empty soda can. If they weighed more, or were larger, we may think twice before tossing them into the trash. In addition, we usually only come in contact with one or two cartridges at a time, even if working for a large corporation. This makes it hard to imagine the big picture. If you consider the phenomenal growth of the inkjet printer market and consider that inkjet cartridges are a consumable product, you can begin to see the effect that these small cartridges canhave on the environment when only used once. Sending empty cartridges to a collection program and using remanufactured cartridges are small things that can make a big difference.

Written by: Jeff Shooner


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