ENVIRONMENT IN EYES | “Drilling and Filling” service ends; Remnants of remanufacturing printer cartridges – VC Reporter


by David Goldstein

When Costco closed in store photo stores last month and put the company’s photo development business entirely online, Ventura County also lost an important environmental service: those photo stores were the last local options for ink refill service. A year ago, Walgreens also stopped the printer recharge service.

However, you can still refill your own inkjet printer cartridges by purchasing a refill kit online or from an office supply store. It’s less than half the price of a new cartridge, but printer ink can be messy to work with. When I tried it without disposable gloves, I ended up with ink all over my hands. Another problem is finding the fill hole. It is recommended to rub the label with your finger, but some cartridges have more than one hole; only one leads to an ink tank covered with a sponge, which has to be pierced with the filling needle.

Instead of refilling, remanufacturing services offer a more common way to save money and resources by reusing cartridges. Remanufacturing includes disassembly, temperature control to prevent the ink from drying out, replacing damaged parts, replacing smart chips, refilling to exact levels, adjusting ink formulas to cartridge types, pressure settings, sealing to prevent leakage, testing to ensure that the yield with original products and packaging in a steam-resistant box.

A remanufactured cartridge costs about three quarters of the cost of a new cartridge, and remanufacturers offer additional discounts in exchange for used cartridges. For example through their website, doorstepinkrecycle.com, Planet Green in Chatsworth (www.planetgreenrecycle.com) sends shipping labels with free postage to anyone who sends them four or more cartridges at a time. The company is offering those who ship cartridges to them an additional 20% discount on the purchase of remanufactured cartridges.

However, not all cartridges can be reprocessed. Sean Levi, CEO of Planet Green, warns, “Inexpensive copycat cartridges, usually listed as ‘compatible’ with a branded brand, are actually imported, disposable scrap pieces that cannot be refilled with ink.” If you want a discount on the retail price of the branded brand, “but you still want top-notch performance,” he recommends “choosing a ‘remanufactured’ iteration of the branded brand, not one marked as ‘compatible’.”

Instead of offering a discount on the purchase of remanufactured cartridges, some companies pay for certain empty cartridges that ship in sufficient quantities. Recycling advantage (Advantagecartridge.com), based in Indiana but operating online and by mail, buys empty ink cartridges at prices ranging from five cents for a 58 HP to $ 5 for an HP 15. Payment requires a minimum transaction of 25 cartridges or $ 50 Cartridges as indicated in the online price list. To meet minimum amounts, participation works best as a fundraiser, an option also available by agreement with Planet Green and others.

Unused cartridges from surplus or liquidation, still in their sealed pouches, are of far greater value. If you’re changing printers but have unused cartridges in sealed bags, contact a company like Galaxy Surplus in Ojai (www.galaxysurplus.com). Ink cartridges only last three years, but laser toner cartridges have no expiration date.

Recycling is an alternative to refilling and charging, and some large retailers offer discounts on recycling cartridges. Staples is giving a $ 2 store coupon for each cartridge, allowing up to 10 cartridges per month. However, to use the credit, you must first spend $ 30 on ink or toner within six months. You can take cartridges to the checkout of your local Staples store or request a shipping label for shipment.

Office Depot similarly offers $ 2 credit per cartridge that only requires a $ 10 qualifying purchase, although it must be made in the same month. Best Buy is offering $ 2 Save $ 40 or more on your next ink purchase, or $ 100 on your next toner purchase.

These companies recycle the plastic and metal in the cartridges into new products, and keep the ink and other components out of landfills. However, reuse is generally seen as a higher environmental priority as it saves more energy and resources.

David Goldstein, Resource Analyst at Ventura County Public Works, can be reached at [email protected] or 805-658-4312 or follow us on Twitter @EyeOnTheEnviron

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