Case studies

tonercartridge recycled

Purchasing remanufactured toner cartridges (remans) instead of original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) cartridges can significantly reduce printing costs and provide environmental benefits by saving energy and natural resources. Remans also perform on the same level as their OEM counterparts.

By the numbers. According to the Responsible Purchasing Network’s Remanufactured Toner Guide:

  • producing a new OEM cartridge burns approximately three quarts of oil, which can be saved by using remans.
  • More than 350 million toner cartridges are disposed of each year in the United States. Up to six million barrels of oil could be saved each year if these were remanufactured.
  • Cartridge remanufacturers in the United States reuse more than 35 thousand tons of plastic and save more than 400,000 barrels of oil each year.

File Responsible Purchasing Guide for Toner Cartridges

Information and recommendations on responsible use, purchasing, and disposal of toner cartridges for laser printers, copiers, and fax machines. (Responsibly Purchasing Network)

Remanufactured toner cartridges pass performance test

The MPCA and the Materials Management Division completed a performance test of remanufactured toner cartridges (remans). Remans performed similarly to original equipment manufacturer cartridges (OEMs) with regard to smudging, smearing, and ghosting. The test also demonstrated the need to allow documents to dry thoroughly before folding them – this goes for both remans and OEMs.

The remans were recommended for use in all MPCA printers when available. Remans are available from most office supply vendors – the state’s vendor, Innovative Office Solutions, has a large selection and excellent prices. The state office supply contract is available to all Cooperative Purchasing Venture members through Contract Release O-86(5).

Requesting remanufactured toner cartridges through equipment service contracts

The MPCA leases multifunction devices through a state contract. The lease option offers a service contract, which includes replacement of spent toner cartridges. Typically, the default toner cartridge replacement is an OEM, so you have to request a remanufactured toner cartridge – this should save you money on your service contract. In addition, many vendors offer take-back/recycling programs for spent cartridges. To get your office started, ask your vendor how to participate in their recycling program.

Real cost savings from switching to remans

By opting for remanufactured toner cartridges in FY2010, the MPCA’s St. Paul office saved more than $6,800. Some of the most commonly purchased remanufactured toner cartridges cost more than 50 percent less than the OEM alternative.

As part of their Green Products Initiative, Hennepin County purchases remanufactured toner cartridges. Purchasing remans saves the county approximately $300,000 per year!

Ramsey County Property Records and Revenue department also saved money by switching to remans. In 2009, Ramsey County Property Records and Revenue saved money by purchasing environmentally preferred remanufactured toner cartridges for their HP and Minolta printers. Purchasing remans for these printers resulted in $140 per month savings on the Minolta cartridges alone, which is an estimated savings of $1,680 per year. By using remanufactured instead of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridges in the HP printers, the department cut costs by more than half for the first six months of 2009—spending $3,637 instead of $7,750—a cost savings of $4,113. (Green Alternatives, Spring 2009)

Innovera toner cartridges test

To determine the source of ghosting/smudging/smearing issues the MPCA ran a test on its HP printers, comparing Innovera brand remanufactured toner cartridges and HP OEM cartridges. Using the same four printers, we printed 100 e-mails on agency letterhead and mailed them US Mail (not inter-office) to Department of Administration.

Each batch of letters had the printer code on the top of the page, and was printed, folded and put into envelopes starting at the same time to avoid ink drying issues.

  • 25 printed using Innovera remanufactured toner cartridge, hand-folded and stuffed
  • 25 printed using HP OEM cartridge, hand-folded and stuffed
  • 25 printed using Innovera remanufactured toner cartridge, folded by machine and stuffed
  • 25 printed using HP OEM cartridge, folded by machine and stuffed

Staff members from Department of Administration and MPCA opened the letters and recorded any instances of ghosting/smudging/smearing. After recording their results they received a sealed envelope with information on which printers produced what letters.

The difference in the ghosting was minimal and every single letter had some level of ghosting, regardless of toner type. After further testing, it was discovered that the ghosting was likely caused by the drying time, not the type of toner (remanufactured or OEM) or paper used.

The following report was developed through a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency.