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Remanufacturing toner cartridges for the planet!

Procurement officers for their organizations make their decisions based on cost-savings without compromising on quality! This is why many organizations consider purchasing remanufactured toner cartridges or sometimes even new compatible (Non-OEM) toners. However, here we’re going to keep aside the arguments on cost-savings and emphasize on how remanufacturing cartridges could help us reduce the ecological footprint significantly, hence benefit the environment without having to cut down on the number of pages that we must print.

What are remanufactured cartridges anyway?

Here’s a good starting point for the debate. Basically, when new cartridges from the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) run out of toner, these can be recycled, or should I say remanufactured. This can be done multiple times until the expected life cycle of the cartridge itself, which could give you over another three rounds of printing before you decide to bin it!

When a brand new cartridge runs out of toner for the first time, its mainly the powder that runs out and most of its parts obviously including the plastic body itself, are in good shape. Generally, a toner refill with a change in the optical photo conductor (OPC) drum, should do the job. On subsequent refills, other parts such as the primary charge rollers (PCR), doctor blades, wiper blades and magnetic rollers may also need a replacement. Hence, a cartridge cannot be refilled over and over again until eternity, although it should easily give another three rounds of printing before it gets disposed.

How good is remanufacturing for the environment?

According to a report by the Center for Remanufacting and Reuse, a new OEM cartridge could on average be used about 3.5 times its initial page yield via remanufacturing. This means that if each cartridge is optimally remanufactured, the market should consist of approximately 29% new cartridges and 71% remanufactured cartridges. However, the report added that the current market shares determine prevalence of a large scope for remanufacturing toner cartridges in the market. In the United Kingdom, nearly 21% of market penetration represents remanufacturing. Whilst this already saves 11,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and equivalents, this amount could increase up to 39,200 if the remanufacturing sector takes control according to the following ratio.

Scenario under Optimal Level of Remanufacturing.png

Clearly, there is a lot of scope in the market for remanufactured toner cartridges, and whilst this sector promises cost savings for corporations, it also generates ecological benefits through reducing the carbon emissions from our day to day printing.

Easier said than done!

Whilst there are significant environmental and cost advantages, the remanufacturing sector faces some serious hurdles on the way!

Firstly, the collection and distribution of used cartridges is a challenge that requires organization and commitment from the end-users. Secondly, most remanufacturing is conducted in the Far East Asia due to the affordability of semi-skilled labor. These empties are usually imported and then re-exported, which increases transportation costs and emissions. Thirdly, the remanufacturing sector relies on the empties market, where availability of empties for required models is essential. Since the OEM suppliers keep on introducing new printer models frequently, the supply of and demand of empty cartridges is always disbalanced. Lastly, due to heterogeneity in terms of quality of remanufactured cartridges, there is always a risk of failure, which consumers consider when making a purchase decisions.

What about the new compatibles in the market?

Over the past few years, the market share for new compatible toner cartridges has significantly increased. The issue here is that a lot of these cartridges are intended for single use, manufactured with some components that barely match the expected page yield of an OEM cartridge! There is a great variation in quality which differs across various brands available in the market. RITE IMAGE compatible toners have an excellent reputation in the MENA region for providing premium quality compatible toners with components that guarantee a decent page yield. Much of these cartridges could also be refilled with new toner powder and a change of the OPC drum that could put these cartridges set for another round of printing. However, this practice is not as common due to the competitively priced new compatibles. Nonetheless, there are still some savings to be done, which could only be made possible with the parallel ecological benefits in mind for recycling and reuse. Click here to read more about the differences between new compatible and OEM cartridges.

Conclusion

Both markets for new and remanufactured cartridges are important sectors of the printing industry. Whilst the remanufacturing sector faces some challenges, there is still a lot of scope and potential for expansion in the remanufacturing sector. Rite Imaging LLC maintains inventory of both remanufactured and new compatible toner cartridges, depending on availability of models and consumer preferences. The company is well reputed and established since 2002, provided remanufactured or new compatible toners for various models guaranteeing excellent quality and page yield. Click here to learn more about us and view our products online to order and get your premium quality compatible toners delivered across the United Arab Emirates. Contact us to let us know of your thoughts! If you represent an organization, let us know of your requirements and we could provide you a free customized offer to ensure sustainable printing with high cost cuttings!

Moosa Yousuf
MSc Economics
University of Nottingham

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