This is a guest post by James Adams. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Most homes have an inkjet printer or laserjet printer to print the family photos, papers for school, or even book drafts. As a result, millions upon millions of consumable cartridges are created, many of which end up in the garbage heap. Here are some quick facts about the cartridges that you use every single day.
1. In the UK alone, more than 30 million inkjet cartridges are dumped each year into landfills. This is the equivalent weight of 18 blue whales. If placed end to end, unrecycled cartridges could circle the Earth.
2. There are specialty markets which you can purchase edible inkjet ink for your printer. In fact, there is a restaurant in Chicago which uses edible ink and paper to print out its delicious sushi entrees. The chef, Homaro Cantu, prints out delightful concoctions using a Canon i560 inkjet printer.
3. Nearly a gallon of oil goes into the production of one laser cartridge. Several ounces of oil go into the creation of an inkjet cartridge. Less oil in energy is used when a laser printer cartridge is remanufactured, though very few cartridges are reused, remanufactured, or recycled.
4. Water makes up at least 50% of an inkjet ink cartridge. The other ingredients to the cartridges are pigments and chemicals which keep the ink from evaporating. This ink is precisely manufactured to make sure that the ink doesn’t evaporate, bugs don’t enter the ink, the cartridge itself is durable, and will not corrode.
5. In the US, it is estimated that over 375 million inkjet cartridges are disposed of every year. The weight of these cartridges is equivalent to over 112,000 Volkswagen Beetles or 67,000 Ford Explorers. Purchasing remanufactured cartridges saves you oil as well as around 3.5 pounds of waste. We currently recycle only around 25% of the inkjet cartridges that are used.
6. Cartridge manufacturers inflate the prices of their inkjet cartridges. They will use the tactic of selling the inkjet printers themselves for at or below cost so they can sell their proprietary inkjet cartridges for a significant profit. This is in contrast to laser printer manufacturers, who will sell their laser printers for high prices, knowing that consumables will not be bought as often.
7. The retail cost of ink itself costs more than most liquids on the planet, including oil, liquor, milk, and space shuttle fuel. The HP 20 black ink cartridge has 28 ml of ink and costs an average of $40 per cartridge. In order to get a liter of ink, one must have around 36 ink cartridges. The cost of a single liter of HP ink is $1,440.
8. Lexmark has a single-use policy written on its cartridges. The company won a lawsuit in 2005 which allows it to prosecute individuals for refilling their cartridges. Those cartridges which aren’t labeled with the single-use markings have to be returned to the company for refilling.
9. There is a computer chip in each inkjet cartridge which informs the printer of the levels of toner within. Since manufacturers stand to win when cartridges are empty, there is the inclination to prematurely signal the depletion of a cartridge. There are a few especially annoying printers which will not print black and white when only a single color has been depleted.
Inkjet printer ink is one of the most valuable liquids on the planet, yet it is used at an alarming rate. Laser printer cartridges are almost as expensive, if one considers the resources which go into the production of a single cartridge. Whether in the UK or the US, recycling inkjet and laser printer cartridges is important.