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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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Compatibles or OEM cartridges?

The basic difference

I’ve been asked this question several times before so I’d clarify what do I exactly mean by compatibles. These are cartridges produced by alternative manufacturers, other than the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). These include toner cartridges made up of entirely new components or refurbished originals with a few components changed. These should not however be confused with OEM cartridges or duplicates as the compatible toner packaging are deliberately designed to be distinguished from the OEM toner packaging. OEM toners are generally perceived as superior quality products, which explains the significant price differential between OEM and compatible toners. In the toners market, OEM cartridges are of a set standard, i.e: you know what you can expect, and you’d always expect them to give a decent page yield. On the other hand, compatibles could be tricky! Saying that “all compatibles are the same” would be a hasty generalization. In fact, compatible toners could vary in quality extensively! Many might give you nearly half the page yield, and if you’re lucky then some could guarantee you just enough pages that could reach to comparable levels with the OEM cartridges. However, if you don’t mind changing the cartridges more frequently in exchange for a saving then most compatible manufacturers would prove satisfactory.

Looking into the context of the local market

Over the past 10 years in the United Arab Emirates, compatible toner sales have been on the rise, as consumers are becoming aware of this alternative, and firms are getting keen towards convenient cost-cuttings. Basically, if OEM cartridges are perceived as expensive, then compatibles become attractive. Its important to note that duplicates or fake cartridges are no longer participants of the game. I believe that the authorities have done a great job eliminating the market for counterfeit toners in the United Arab Emirates. A Gulf News report on 16th September 2018 mentioned that 460,000 counterfeit cartridges were seized in the United Arab Emirates during raids in the preceding month of April. Another report by the Gulf News dated 22nd June 2018 mentioned that ink cartridges worth AED 3.2 million were seized by the Dubai Police during a raid in an apartment. These fake cartridges looked the same as the OEM products and were identically packaged as well. Coming back to our topic, compatibles today seem to be an entirely different market segment, with its own sets of consumers, sellers, prices and even variations of qualities within. Now, most customers are aware of the alternative market, which wasn’t the case back in 2002, when Rite Imaging LLC became the first company to introduce compatible toners in the United Arab Emirates. The motive was to offer an affordable solution to SMEs in the Middle East, which was fully transparent. Today, Rite Imaging LLC has established its own trade-mark “RITE-IMAGE”, which is recognized as a premium brand for compatible toner cartridges in the MENA region.

How to figure out which compatibles are the best?

As discussed earlier, there is a great deal of variation in the quality of cartridges, which the alternative market has to offer. For consumers to find out which compatibles are the best, an easy way is to measure the page yield and compare it with the page yield of OEM cartridges. I have personally found out many compatible cartridges of “other” brands that have a significantly lower page yield, which mostly goes undiscovered if the customer is not paying attention. In that case, they tend to sell more as these compatible run out of toner faster than they should otherwise. However, when I measured the cost-savings when filling in less toner powder in these cartridges, the amount was not more than a Dirham, so it doesn’t really make sense. Why would a manufacturer reduce its quality for such an insignificant saving? After further research, I reached the conclusion that it wasn’t the toner powder where these savings were made, but instead it were the sub-standard quality components which were meant to last less, and if the toner was filled to full capacity then the later print-outs would be of poor quality. As a distinguished brand however, RITE-IMAGE toner cartridges provide a page yield similar to the OEM cartridges, with a print-quality indistinguishable from the originals. These compatibles can be purchased online at www.ritoners.com at competitive prices with deliveries all over the United Arab Emirates.

Conclusion

Whilst the market expands, both compatibles and OEM cartridges find their ways into its various segments. OEM cartridges are the benchmark and it is fair to expect the best quality out of them. On the other hand, whilst significantly cheaper, compatibles vary greatly in quality from one brand to another. It is therefore essential to do your page-yield test prior to making a firm choice on a compatible brand, if you’re up for it.

Moosa Yousuf
MSc. Economics
University of Nottingham