On average, a typical US household spends $90 a year on ink cartridge and toner costs. Costco has a new inkjet cartridge refill service in many locations. They do this in the Photo center. Not only do you save money over purchasing a new cartridge, you also reduce waste by recycling what you already have. Ink cartridges need to be used regularly, otherwise they begin to dry up and clog the printer’s nozzles.
Refilling a HP 901 XL Black cartridge at the Costco Inkjet Cartridge Refill Service costs $9.99, buying a new one costs $29.99. You can find re-manufactured ink cartridges from Amazon for even less cost than refilling.
Infotrends estimates that roughly 85% of printer cartridges are thrown away after just one use or 350 million empty cartridges are ending up in landfills.
Refilling Inkjet Cartridges
You should refill the ink cartridge as soon as possible after running low on ink. If you continue to print with one color empty, the print head nozzles will be damaged and the cartridge may not refill properly. We have had the Costco ink refill people tell us that they could not refill our cartridge because one color was totally dry. You can refill the cartridge roughly two to eight times before you have to buy a new one. Keep the cartridge in a ‘print head down’ position as much as possible.
Refilled ink cartridges are usually about 95% Full, so you may not get quite as many prints. Archival quality prints may not maintain their quality for as long, but refilled ink cartridges are fine for every letters, invoices, labels, etc. If you need top quality photo prints, visit the kiosk at your local Walgreens or Costco.
Ink cartridges are big money makers for printer companies like HP. They label their cartridges with “Intended for single use only.” and “No licensed for modification”. When looking for a new printer, be sure to review ink costs before buying. A bad refill job may result in the leak inside your printer or printer heads being clogged, but probably not any hardware problem.
It is illegal for printer manufacturers to void printer warranties if you use third party inkjet cartridges. If the refill breaks your printer, then you probably will not get a free repair.
Refilling Cartridges at Home
If Costco Inkjet Cartridge Refill Service does not refill a certain ink cartridge (Epson for instance), try some online vendors that may have inkjet cartridge refill kits. It is messy refilling your own ink cartridge using syringes but you can save even more money. Unfortunately, some inkjet cartridges have computer chips to prevent refilling. You can also buy a tank based ink system. These are best for people that print high volumes of items.
Refilling Inkjet Cartridges and Toner Cartridges
Be sure to recycle any inkjet cartridges and toner cartridges. Most electronics stores such as Best Buy or Office supply stores such as Office Depot will gladly recycle ink cartridges. HP through its HP Planet Partners program includes free UPS return labels to recycle its toner cartridges.
Buying a New Printer
When buying a new inkjet printer, consider not just its features, performance, cost per page, and printing quality but also the costs of supplies and availability of 3rd party ink and refillable inkjet cartridges. Often times, the cheapest printers has the highest printed cost per page. More expensive printers can use high capacity cartridges. Look for printers with average cost per page around 2 cents by diving price of ink cartridge by number of pages it prints per cartridge. Some office oriented printers like the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 have a low print cost per page but do not take into account all consumables like print heads.
If you mainly print in black and white, consider getting an inexpensive black-and-white laser printer instead of a color inkjet printer. Laser printers use a toner cartridge that can sit unused for months, and have a significantly lower cost per page, and print faster when compared to a color inkjet printer. Cost per page is typically around $0.02 or less versus $0.04 or more for color inkjet printers.
Laser Printer Danger
Professor Lidia Morawska from Queensland University of Technology’s International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health has details on dangerous emissions from common laser printers. Her earlier finding was that almost 1/3 of popular laser printers emitted large numbers of ultrafine particles and VOCs.
“In the printing process, toner is melted and when it is hot, certain compounds evaporate and those vapours then nucleate or condense in the air, forming ultrafine particles,” she said.
You can try to avoid using laser printers at home by sticking to inkjet printers or safer printers on their list. Also ensure ventilation is good around laser printers and that they are turned off when not needed.
Green Office Supplies at Office Depot
Office Depot has a new Smart Steps to a Greener Office Section. Help Go Green in the office. Going green is getting more mainstream. A survey they did indicates that businesses definitely need to get with the program.
- More than half (54%) recycle paper and magazines
- Nearly a half (48%) recycle bottles and cans as well as ink cartridges (45%)
- Only 24% purchase Energy Star rated technology, e.g. computers, monitors, copiers, etc.
- One-third (33%) use energy-efficient lights
- A quarter (24%) print double-sided copies
- Only 16% purchase remanufactured ink and toner cartridges
Items they recommend buying from Office Depot of course include:
- EnviroCopy 100% Post Consumer Recycled paper
- 100% Recycled, 95% Post Consumer Hanging Folder
- Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges
- Refillable products
- Energy star technology and lighting
- Green Cleaning products like their hand soup
- Greenguard certified furniture like Global Genoa
They also have lots of useful tips for being more green. A pretty good effort.
Costco Inkjet Cartridge Refill Service is a good way to save money and be more green. Be sure to read our article Inkjet and Toner Saving Software and Solutions to learn about software solutions to reduce ink cartridge usage.
Eco Friendly, Green Printer Paper
We ran out of printer paper and were looking for an eco friendly solution. The goal is to have FSC certified paper and 100% recycled. Office Depot did not have anything that met our goals.
Staples has Staples 100% Recycled Copy Paper that meets both requirements. $51.99 a case vs $35.99 for their standard copy paper. Ah the price of being ECO friendly..
Conservatree has listings with advice on selecting paper.