Cartridge refill service helps cut waste
Friday, May 14, 2010 12:02 PM
Cartridge World has come a long way since its birth in Australia some 20 years ago. Refilling a cartridge then was a relatively primitive affair, but now as the technology has advanced, Cartridge World utilizes the latest techniques to match the inks and toners of leading brand cartridges.
Environmental impact of printer cartridges
It takes about a gallon of oil to make a new laser cartridge.
Almost eight cartridges are thrown away per second in the United States alone!
In North America alone, over 350 million cartridges per year are discarded in our landfills, and that number increases by 12 per cent annually!
Every remanufactured laser cartridge saves nearly 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic waste from being deposited in landfills.
A laser cartridge thrown into landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose. Some components made of industrial grade plastics will take over a thousand years to decompose.
70 per cent of used printer cartridges throughout the world are currently thrown out.
In one year, if the world's discarded cartridges were stacked end-to-end; they would circle the earth over three times.
Chris Marshall, owner of Cartridge World in North Street, Hamilton, explained that from its inception in Australia the company has over 1,700 branches worldwide with its franchise in Bermuda being the 62nd country in which Cartridge World has a presence.
No one likes throwing away something they have only used once and would like to save between 30 and 35 per cent on the cost of a new cartridge. At the same time there is a concern that the refilled, or remanufactured cartridge, as Mr. Marshall prefers to call it, works as well as a new one once it has been filled.
He explained that 20 years ago the machinery available for refilling cartridges was very basic.
Now, with technological advances and equipment specially made for refilling cartridges, the story is quite different.
The same is true of the inks and toners used to refill cartridges as they are matched to each specific cartridge series. "All our inks are sourced out of Germany and we pride ourselves that we do provide great quality.
"Cartridge World has patented combinations of inks which enable us to refill the top brand names such as Brother, Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Dell, HPs, Kodak's, Samsungs, are a variety of the extent of cartridges we can refill.
"If a customer walks through the door and wants a HP60 we just pull one off the shelf and give it to them," said Mr. Marshall. "We take their empty cartridges, if they bring them in, and give them a $1 off the price to encourage them to recycle. There is no waiting.
"If you bring a HP cartridge you get exactly the same [model] cartridge back," said Mr. Marshall.
"We put our label on it after it's been tested and filled up. We store it in an airtight package so the print head doesn't dry up.
We have a no wait policy, so this is done in my spare time. It is filled up, tested, and when I am happy with the print quality it is put into our inventory."
Mr. Marshall said cartridges can be refilled between five and eight times and still give good service. He added that empty cartridges go through electronic testing before and after they are refilled.
"We first need to troubleshoot the empty cartridge and test for blockages," explained Mr. Marshall. "We have to make sure the electrodes work as there are 416 nozzles on a cartridge. We cannot refill until it is tested."
Certain cartridges have chips, or page counters, in them that need to be replaced to 'reset the calendar' which enables the cartridge to print.
He explained that the cartridge needs to be emptied of any residue of the old ink. The cartridge is placed in a vacuum machine and is subjected to a centrifugal force of a 1,000 revs per minute, which spins all the ink out of the print head.
"Once we get down to the empty weight we fill it with water, which breaks up any particles, then spin it out again so it is flushed out before we put in the new ink. It is then
weighed to make sure it corresponds to the full cartridge weight."
The cartridge is then left for a day to allow the ink to settle before it is tested for print quality. It is then clipped, taped up to keep the air out, and put into a heat-sealed bag
Cartridge World remanufactures toner cartridges as well. Mr. Marshall said that although the toner cartridge looks complicated it has in fact few parts. "The hard plastic outer casing takes 200 years to disintegrate, so why are we throwing it away?" he asked.
In remanufacturing the toner cartridge the drum, wiper blade and doctor blade are replaced, and the refilled cartridge is as rigorously tested as the ink-filled cartridges.
As some toner cartridges cannot be refilled Cartridge World has replacement cartridges in stock that will fit most printers, and they can be refilled.
They even take client's non-refillable toners and ship them off to a recycling plant, a service they offer as part of their commitment to the environment.
Cartridge World is also involved in a global initiative that helps schools raise funds by encouraging students to collect empty printer cartridges and return them to Cartridge World, and at the same time they help the environment.
Mr. Marshall stands by his remanufactured cartridges and offers a 100 per cent guarantee that you get the quality and performance you expect.
The environmental footprint of printer cartridge production and waste is considerable. However, thanks to technical innovation, ways do exist to prolong the life of this once throwaway item.
44 North Street, Hamilton
Cartridge refill service helps cut waste