Europe has gradually shifted its mindset to embrace recycling as evidenced by the increased recycling rates across all waste streams in the last decade. The recycling rate of e-waste for example was 28% in 2010 but increased to 41% in 2016. In December 2017, a new EU Waste Framework Directive was established setting ambitious targets for the collection and recycling of household waste including a common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste and 75% of packaging waste by 2030.
While millions of us obediently recycle our waste, we do so with the thinking that once we’ve put that product into a recycling bin, we have done our part to save the planet. The real question we should ask however is what happens to the waste once its collected?
In Europe we know that almost 46% of the waste collected is landfilled and just 38% is recycled. So, why does recycling not mean recycling? So many of our products today and the packaging they come in are not produced with effective recycling in mind at end of life stage. If the products we are being asked to recycle are not worth recycling, or are impossible to recycle, we are effectively just managing rubbish. That’s a pretty sobering thought when you reliably sort your recyclables from your rubbish believing that they will go on to be sustainably recycled and not simply deposited in a landfill.
In the imaging industry we have seen large scale manufacturers of new build cartridges announce the launch of cartridge recycling programs. However, since new build products are not candidates for being given a second life due to the inferior parts used in their original manufacturing, one must question what these manufacturers actually do with the cartridges collected? A recycling program without a certified waste management process behind it means nothing, its merely a collection scheme.
While increased recycling is one of the central pillars of the Circular Economy Package adopted by the EU Commission, sustainable product design is equally important to ensure that products are designed to last longer, are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, and incorporate as much recycled material as possible instead of primary raw material. On average less than 12% of material resources used in the EU in 2016 came from recycled products and recovered materials.
The challenges ahead therefore lie in how to increase the recycling of valuable resources in the waste stream while at the same time ensuring the delivery of high quality secondary raw materials to the European manufacturing industry.
Recycling Toner Cartridges for Tangible Benefits
Resellers and their customers have the unique ability to participate in protecting our environment from unnecessary waste and keeping cartridges out of landfills.
Creating one new toner cartridge emits approximately 4.8 kg of carbon dioxide, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. That, multiplied by the millions of cartridges manufactured, combined with the amount of landfill waste generated by used toner cartridges, adds up to a significant impact on the environment.
However, recycling cartridges can reduce the number of newly manufactured cartridges needed and keep landfill waste generated by discarded cartridges to a minimum. This practice can help offset a customer’s carbon footprint and contribute to their reputation as an environmentally responsible organisation.
The inequality presented by counterfeit cartridges
According to the Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East and Africa (ICCE), the counterfeit imaging supplies market in EMEA is estimated at 1.6 billion euro. These products include non-compliant, dangerous and environmentally unfriendly products that deliver an inferior quality product from an unreliable supply chain.
Such high volumes of counterfeit/newbuild toner cartridges present a significant issue to a trusted remanufacturer such as Clover Imaging as many find their way into our collection programs. Waste and counterfeit cartridges cannot be remanufactured under the same conditions as OEM cartridges and fall outside of the scope of products that can go through a recycling process to yield a second life. Many do not comply with REACH, RoHS or CE in Europe. In addition to the products unsuitability for recycling there are potential health and safety risks that Clover needs to manage. Certain types of new build cartridges have been tested and hazardous chemicals such as DecaBDe have been detected in the plastics. These items present an increasing problem in terms of how Clover can manage the End of Life (EOL). Therefore, due to the potentially hazardous nature of these products together with their EU non-compliance and non-reusability, Clover will not collect these items as to do so would necessitate putting them through a specialised waste collector for EOL treatment.
Grow Your Green Reputation
A high-quality, compliant, remanufactured cartridge will have been completely dismantled, had moving and worn parts replaced, and been refilled with toner to provide performance equal to the OEM cartridge it is replacing. Not only is it the perfect, high-functioning replacement for OEM, but it is the greenest solution to the problem on toner cartridge waste that there is.
A recent study by the Capgemini Research Institute found that consumer preferences are strongly impacted by sustainability. In fact, eight out of ten consumers are making sustainability-based purchase decisions while 64% say that buying sustainable products makes them feel happy about their purchase.
Companies see an increase in customer loyalty as one of the many benefits of offering transparent sustainability initiatives. This type of marketing impact is just one reason why Clover Imaging has developed the collecture Recycling Program.
Through this program, resellers not only collect empty toner cartridges to safeguard our environment, but they demonstrate concrete practices that support good environmental stewardship.
Contact a Clover representative today and start realising the environmental benefits immediately when your customers recycle their cartridges!