Opinion: Ink a better deal for the environment

By John Sollars
29 Nov 2011 View Comments
Stinkyink.com's John Sollars

I care about where I live, this lovely green planet Earth, which is why I am passionate about recycling. My company sells printer ink and toner cartridges and these are some of the greatest items available to recycle. In fact, it should be compulsory to do so.

Printer ink cartridges manufactured by HP, Lexmark and Dell are generally very easy to recycle. However, the manufacturers themselves make a very large percentage of their corporate profits by selling ink and so are caught in a cleft stick: how to appear “green” and still be able to sell the maximum number of new printer ink cartridges, which is where they make their profit.

Further reading

All of the major original printer ink manufacturers have recycling policies in place, but their attitude to recycling is different to mine. They will, in most cases, collect empty cartridges and then shred them for reuse often as something else. My own preference is to collect them, clean them out and then refill them for reuse. Both processes are recycling – it’s just that one of them seems a bit more logical to me.
But then, what happens to my cartridges when I have recycled them? Well, I sell them on, which of course eats into the OEMs’ munificent profits. They don’t like this, but can’t do much about it, because, of course, we are all committed to recycling... aren’t we?

So the real point that I am getting to is questioning our attitude to recycled and refilled ink and toner cartridges.

When the recession hit in 2009, I was expecting to see the sales of original manufacturers’ cartridges slump and our refilled cartridge sales soar, but I was wrong... people carried on buying the original equipment.

So here is the conundrum: are we all paying lip service to the core philosophy of going green; do we really have that commitment to saving the planet, or is it all a “greenwash”. Does our corporate social responsibility report demonstrate that we are quite happy to send our used cartridges for recycling, while also omitting to mention that we aren’t willing to buy them back again to put into our precious inkjet or laser printers? I call that double standards.

Come on, corporate Britain, recycled ink and toner cartridges are really good quality these days. Save money, save the planet and feel good about yourself at the same time. Take the plunge – you know it makes sense.

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