Original Toner v Remanufactured Round 2 – The Environmental Impact

In my last post, Business Buyers Guide – Toner Cartridges – Originals vs Compatibles, I concluded that for quality, reliability and even price I would opt for original toner over compatibles. The only area that I didn’t touch upon was the environmental impact …

Remanufactured cartridges may seem environmentally-friendly because they’re produced with reused materials, but if you dig a little deeper and look at the whole toner lifecycle, again, you may be surprised.

Clearly there is an environmental benefit to remanufacturing cartridges if they can be used again and again but many remanufacturers prefer to work with cartridges that have never been remanufactured before—meaning most print cartridges are remanufactured only once. The fact is that 94% of remanufactured cartridges will ultimately be thrown away. 1

But how does this compare to a brand new cartridge? Is using a toner cartridge that has at least been recycled once better environmentally that using an original cartridge? To find out the answer I again turned to HP, our own toner supplier, and their answer was definitive “Original HP cartridges are a better overall choice for the environment when compared with remanufactured cartridges” – quite a claim! So what did they have up their sleeve to back up this bold statement?

Firstly there were the basic numbers – “Original HP print cartridges have a 7% lower impact in terms of global warming potential and a 33% lower impact in total waste produced, compared with remanufactured cartridges tested.” But the real basis of HP’s argument is that they look at the whole lifecycle of the cartridge, not just delaying its life until it reaches the landfill.

The big picture

How the cartridge is made

HP doesn’t offer remanufactured print cartridges because they don’t meet their quality and reliability standards. However, HP have engineered ink and LaserJet print cartridges that can use recycled plastic and still meet their standards for quality and reliability. Check out the video below to find out more about the recycling process.

In-life use

Paper is one of the main sources of printing’s environmental impact, and print quality can play a significant role in paper consumption. Using higher-quality Original HP cartridges leads to fewer reprints, less wasted paper (to find out more about his read our last post here) and therefore an overall lower environmental impact.

End of life

I think this is where HP really won it for me; all HP Print cartridges can be returned to HP, free, for them to recycle through their HP Planet Partners program. Simply order a Pre-addressed, postage-paid labels (bulk collection boxes are also available) from this link. If you buy an original HP print cartridge and recycle it through the HP Planet Partners program, there’s no chance it will end up in a landfill. In fact the recycled cartridge material is amongst other things, used to make new HP print cartridges, beginning the whole lifecycle all over again!

If you’d like to find out more about the HP Plant Partners Program – click here, otherwise keep an eye out for the third and final part of our printer supplies series.


1 Sources for competitive environmental information include remanufacturer trade publications, advertising and industry research. Some research commissioned by HP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *