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[greenyes] Printer Cartridge Recycling


Cartridges for a Cause
Schools Collect Empty Inkjets
And Sell Them to Brokers,
Who Resell to Be Refilled

David Wood makes a good living by asking people for their empties -- empty
printer cartridges, that is.
To make his business pay, Mr. Wood does a lot of asking. Every three months
he visits about 345 schools and as many as 20 churches dotted across his
home state of North Carolina. He also phones about 15 schools a day, as well
as several Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

These schools, churches and other nonprofit groups comprise Mr. Wood's
grass-roots army of collectors, helping him gather a total of about 9,400
empty inkjet and laser cartridges a month. He pays an average of $2.50 for
each inkjet cartridge. Then, his Raleigh, N.C., business, called Kartridges
for Kidz, resells the empties for an average $5.50 apiece to remanufacturers
who will recondition them, refill them and offer them for sale at 30% to 50%
less than new brand-name cartridges.

"I'm basically asking for other people's trash, which is the beautiful thing
about this," says Mr. Wood, whose business brings in monthly revenue of
about $60,000.
Mr. Wood is one in a growing cadre of cartridge brokers that helps nonprofit
groups raise funds, encourages recycling and supplies a network of mostly
small remanufacturers that offer consumers a lower-cost option for running
their printers. It is a win-win proposition in many respects, except for the
big printer makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Lexmark International

Brokers like Mr. Wood and the remanufacturers they supply are pinching the
printer giants, which rely heavily on profits from repeat sales of new
cartridges. The printer companies also are beginning to feel a squeeze from
office-supply outlets that sell do-it-yourself refill kits and chains such
as Cartridge World and Island Ink-Jet, which are setting up across the
nation as cartridge-refilling stations for consumers.
In the past five years, the share of the global ink-jet-cartridge market
held by remanufactured cartridges has risen to 17% from 14%, says
imaging-industry tracker Lyra Research. Lyra expects that to rise to 24% by
2008, even though Consumer Reports and other consumer watchdogs consider
remanufactured cartridges inferior in quality.

H-P and others have responded by suing some remanufacturers for patent
infringement or other alleged offenses. They also encourage consumers to
return used cartridges for recycling by packaging post-paid return envelopes
with new cartridges.

John Solomon, a vice president in H-P's imaging division, says the company
is trying to help the environment, not thwart remanufacturers. "We welcome
competition," he says. Mr. Solomon calls the cartridge collectors "a cottage
industry" and says that while H-P's own cartridges are more expensive, they
are of better quality.


Demand for empty cartridges -- sometimes called "cores" -- is skyrocketing.
A used black-ink cartridge for an inkjet printer can fetch an average of $5
from a remanufacturer, up from $3 a year ago, according to Lyra. Research
firm InfoTrends/CAP Ventures expects Americans to go through 86.5 million
laser-toner cartridges and 604 million inkjet cartridges this year.
Cartridge brokers are mobilizing their collectors to hunt for these cores.
Only "virgin cores," or cartridges that have been used just once, are
considered worthy of remanufacturing. Because good-quality cores aren't easy
to find, brokers are often willing to pay handsomely -- in some cases more
than $20 for a used laser-printer cartridge.

FOR FULL ARTICLE:,,SB111533674004326330,00.html

Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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