For so long, recycled printer cartridges have received bad publicity over their presumed substandard quality and inferior performance. Considering that many people did experience problems with the cartridges they bought in the past, it’s not very difficult to appreciate why the negative perception exists, despite the fact that buying remanufactured cartridges help consumers save money.
However, it is important to understand that recycled printer cartridges come in different classes. There are those that are really poor in terms of quality, and there are those that are relatively acceptable. Then there are also superior recycled printer cartridges that exhibit qualities on a par with those produced by original equipment manufacturers (OEM).
High-quality recycled printer cartridges are known in the printer ink industry as “remanufactured” cartridges. The name alone will probably give you an idea that these are not your typical recycled cartridges, which are, more often than not, the culprit behind the quality-related problems that people complain about.
How are low-quality recycled printer cartridges made?
Many ordinary recycled cartridges are produced using ink refill kits that can be purchased from office supplies stores. This sort of recycling is usually a do-it-yourself endeavor, and the process is so elementary that users don’t even have a way to clean the ink dregs from the emptied cartridge shells. It basically involves using syringe and needles to extract the new ink provided in the kit so that it can be transferred into the used cartridge.
Many cartridge refill shops also provide quick refilling services to recycle used ink cartridges. Unlike cartridges that have been recycled using refill kits, cartridges that receive these quick refills first undergo basic cleaning to remove the ink still remaining inside the shells and on the print heads. This cleaning process can involve the use of spinning machines and ultrasonic cleaning systems.
This type of recycling can be accomplished within a half hour, and they could result in better-quality printouts. If you want the best results, however, you should go for remanufactured printing cartridges.
Remanufacturing: The best cartridge recycling process
The most advanced printer cartridge recycling process is known as remanufacturing. It is a rigorous technical process that involves several stages. For ink cartridges, the steps are as follows:
- Inspection (visual and electrical)
- Cleaning (centrifugal cleaning, vacuum billing, atomized spray cleaning)
- Computer-aided refilling
- Quality testing
For toner cartridges, the following steps are followed:
- Parts inspection (to determine which parts can still be used)
- New toner installation
- Quality Testing
The meticulous remanufacturing process ensures that the resulting products will perform just as good or even better than their OEM counterparts.
The best thing about these cartridges is that they also cost significantly less than the original “brand name” products, making them an excellent option for people who want to minimize their expenses for printer consumables.
The environmental benefits of cartridge remanufacturing
Remanufacturing printer ink cartridges is also the most environmentally sustainable way to produce these essential printer products.
According to the industry group International Imaging Technology Council, printer cartridges can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, so just imagine the impact that the millions of printer cartridges produced each year can have on the environment. Remanufacturing offers an opportunity for communities to divert these empty cartridges away from the waste stream.
The non-profit organization Earth Share also estimates that some 400,000 tons of scrap plastic and metal can be kept out of landfills every year if only people purchased remanufactured printer cartridges instead of new ones.
The choice to go for remanufactured printer cartridges is easier nowadays than it ever was. Thanks to more sophisticated recycling methods, remanufactured printer cartridges today are able to match newly manufactured products when it comes to quality and performance.
As a matter of fact, even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends the use of remanufactured ink cartridges in its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for Non-paper Office Products.
According to the agency, recycling printer cartridges results in many environmental benefits including the conservation of energy and natural resources, as well as the reduction of solid waste, water pollutants, and atmospheric pollutants. In addition, it also supports the economy by creating jobs and markets for the collected recyclable materials and for the resulting remanufactured products.