The Two Rs – Recycle Or Replace: Which Is A Better Option?

photo credit: osde8info via photopin cc

photo credit: osde8info via photopin cc

An ink cartridge is the component of a printer that consists of ink which is deposited on the paper while printing. An ink cartridge generally contains ink reservoirs that are partitioned. Some manufacturers even add a chip and electronic contacts that operate with the printer. The printing normally depends on the fluidity of the ink, which is affected if the ink starts drying at the print head. It happens when the ink level gets low. Isopropyl alcohol is a good solution to rub off the dried ink; use a swab or a paper towel to make it spotless.

Pricing of cartridges is the major question

Ink cartridges are more expensive than what might be expected – sometimes even equals a substantial fraction of the price of the printer. In order to save money, people use ink cartridges from a third-party vendor. The higher price of cartridges has even provided a leeway for counterfeiters to provide cartridges with a fake brand name, all of which claim to be original. Another option involves alterations of a cartridge by the original manufacturer which allows for the continuous ink systems to make use of external ink tanks. Many others utilize aftermarket inks, and refill their own cartridges by using a kit that has bulk ink.

It is actually sometimes cheaper to purchase a brand new printer than to restore the whole set of cartridges provided along with the printer. The chief manufacturers of printers− Lexmark, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Epson, Brother and Canon − use a business model called “razor and blades”, and often end up losing money while expecting to earn a profit by selling ink cartridges over the life-time of the printer. Printer manufacturers derive huge amount of profits from toner and ink cartridge sales, while many of these brands have taken several actions against the concept of aftermarket cartridges.

Deciding whether to refill or replace?

Since ink cartridges manufactured by the original manufacturers are quite expensive, demand still exists for inexpensive third party alternatives. These involve ink sold in cartridge refill kits, machines which automatically refill the cartridges, and remanufactured cartridges. Consumers can also refill the cartridges with a kit, or get it refilled in a store where they pump back the ink into the cartridge. Another alternative for the consumer is to buy “bulk ink” and refill the ink cartridges whenever needed. This is an extremely cost-effective solution, if the customer is a regular user of cartridges or if it is for office use.

Certain third party firms are offering refillable ink cartridges that have an auto-reset chip in order to simplify the entire refilling process. Such refillable ink cartridges are a lesser threat to the environment and are relatively easy to refill.

Around three liters of oil is used to prepare a cartridge; a laser cartridge can actually be remanufactured two or three times along with its parts. The parts used in a remanufacturing process are also recyclable. While doing so, emission of greenhouse-gases is reduced by approximately 4.5kg for each of the laser cartridges. Armed with this kind of knowledge, it makes much sense to recycle or reuse your printer cartridge instead of always buying a new cartridge. Look for ways to reuse rather than replace always.

About the Author: James Hanning helps provide useful tips on using your office resources like ink cartridges much more efficiently.

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20 Responses to “The Two Rs – Recycle Or Replace: Which Is A Better Option?”

  1. February 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    I use to reuse my ink cartridges because I could save a little bit of money but then Walgreens kept letting their machine break without fixing it very fast so I started taking it to Office Depot and they would let me earn points off of the cartridges that I returned. The only problem with returning my ink cartridges to office depot was that if I didn’t earn enough points within that quarter then I would lose all my points. It’s kind of a burn situation since most people only have to replace it one to two times a month like I do.

  2. February 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    If you are looking for cheap ink cartridges to by I found this website that I always use to buy mine from and they ship pretty quickly. I find that sometimes when I try to take my ink cartridges to have them filled back up, they either leak or the cashier tells me that she can’t refill them so I have to buy new ones but instead of buying them at full price I go to this website and get them cheaper. http://www.cartridgesale.com.au I thought I would put this out there so that you all could get better rates as well. There is no need in spending a fortune on something that we all need every now and then.

  3. Abbey Fry
    February 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    I went and bought a printer at Walmart for around $20 because it was cheap and I was on a budget. I went to get new ink cartridges for it and and it cost me more than the darn printer itself. It made me upset and then I realized that this is probably why they sell them so cheap because they know that you are going to have to keep replacing the ink cartridges in them. I went back and they no longer sold the printers like that and the lady told me that they only had a few in stock and had sold out but they had plenty of ink for it. UGH! I guess I will just have to read through this article one more time and decide if want to replace or recycle it.

  4. Kelly Buckner
    February 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I always recycle mine but mainly because of the earth and I recycle everything that I can. Some of them aren’t full when I recycle them though and I feel like they ripped me off. I take mine to the office place down the road and there really isn’t a way for me to tell if they are all the way full until the run out and I know they should have lasted longer. And then there is a problem with them leaking sometimes which is a huge pain because I have to clean the printer if this happens and then the cartridge is no longer good so I am stuck replacing it anyways.

  5. Christina Carter
    February 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    I went and bought a Epson printer because it was on sale and the box claimed that it was cheaper to replace one cartridge color instead of buying a full cartridge like you do on the printers. I have to admit that I fell for it. yes, it is cheaper to replace one cartridge at a time but if all four of the colors run out then you are talking about some money being spent. I don’t even know if you can refill these cartridges like you can the other ones but I would love to find out before I waste any more money on this darn thing.

  6. George
    February 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Thanks for the informative post! I personally found HP to be a lot more cheaper than the rest. The link that the author has provided however, – cartridgesale.com.au does provide affordable ink cartridges and these ink cartridges are original (OEM) rather than manufactured.

  7. Brian Carlos
    February 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    It always amazes me how these machines work. I spend a lot on ink every month for my printer. Ink cartridges sometimes cost a lot more than the printer itself, as you stated in the article. It’s like they get you for buying the printer really cheap and then make you spend a lot on the ink which is ridiculous if you ask me. I usually just buy the cartridges instead of recycling or refilling them. I guess you could say that I am not green friendly lol

  8. Montana Grace
    February 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    You know the person who invented printers and ink cartridges hit the big time. I wonder who came up with the concept of printing.Anyways, I tend to replace mine but I recycle the empty cartridges. The only reason that I don’t refill them is because I use to always end up with ink cartridges that didn’t work right after they would refill them.

  9. Autumn Marie
    February 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    I am glad that you brought up the price of printers versus ink cartridges because I have also noticed that it is cheaper to buy a brand new printer instead of ink cartridges. I have a epson printer that uses like 4 or 5 ink cartridges and they claim that it is cheaper to replace just the color that you need but I don’t agree with them because to replace all of them you would be spending more. Sure, it is cheaper to replace on at a time but you spend more in the end.

  10. February 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    The question is really if you can get ink cartridges cheaper on the internet than you can at a store. I have seen a lot of wholesale places on the internet that charge way less than places like office depot and office max. I still prefer to replace mine instead of refilling because you can always recycle the empty cartridge later.

  11. February 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I always search for the greener solution to things which means that I always refill my cartridges until they tell me that I can’ anymore. I also always set my printers on fast draft so that I use less ink and I also went and purchased another printer that is a thermal printer for black and white documents so that I don’t have to use ink at all. It cost me more at first but in the end, I have spent less and helped the earth.

  12. Ruby Singer
    March 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    I have also been trying to choose which one to do. Both have their pros and cons and after doing some research on the subject, I am still confused as to rather I want to replace the ink cartridges, re-fill them, or recycle them.

  13. Cassidy Montoya
    March 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I always recycle them. I don’t like to refill them because it takes to long to have to wait for them to do this and I am always in a hurry so I buy new ones and just recycle the old ones.

  14. Frank Squal
    March 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Awe, the man has figured out a way to screw us again. I also noticed that it is usually cheaper to purchase a brand new printer than to purchase the ink cartridges sometimes. But this also depends on which printer you buy since they have a lot of different ones but when it comes to the cheap wal-mart brand (like $30) then yes, it is cheaper to buy the printer vs buying ink cartridges.

  15. Bobby Hedrick
    March 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    My wife always got her refilled because she is into be green and all but personally, if she sends me to pick it up I always just buy new ones. I don’t feel like waiting in line for 10 minutes and the another 10 minutes to get them refilled.

  16. Dalena Dobbs
    March 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I have been ordering mine off of the internet. I have found that I can get them much cheaper than buying them at my local walgreens. The only time that I purchase them full price is if I run out of ink before I can order more. I always take the empty cartridges to recycle them though.

  17. Ozell Stowe
    March 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    I seen where you mentioned the ink cartridge refill kits, do you know where these can be purchased? I seen them once at office depot but the next time I visited, they were sold out and I haven’t seen them since.

  18. Mark Hays
    March 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Normally I will buy them new and take the ink cartridges to be recycled….normally…. Here lately I have been forgetting them at home and I have an entire drawer dedicated to these little suckers.

  19. toby kyle
    March 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    “Razor and Blades” is like a new saying for “I figured out how to make you spend more money by making you think you are going to be spending less”. A lot of businesses do this because a lot of consumers don’t stop and think about what they are buying and the long affects of it when they see a nice little price tag for something that they need.

  20. Katherine Short
    March 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    So, what do these businesses do with all the cartridges that people are recycling back to them? Which way is better for the world, to recycle or refill? People have become more earth friendly than what they use to be and I keep trying to do what I can to help but just recently went and bought a printer.

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