Every year, almost 942 million ink and toner cartridges are being sold all over the world. Sadly, 70% of those are discarded after use. This allows the empty toners to find their way to a landfill or incinerator and create a huge mound of waste.
What if a toner could have been utilized to maximize its potential usefulness? A worldwide shift in toner use has been noticed. Today, more and more companies and users continue to use and reuse their empty cartridges through a lot of recycling processes. Refilling is one such process.
What is Refilling?
Toner refilling is the act of refilling unfilled laser printer toner cartridges with new toner powder. This enables the cartridge to be reused, sparing the expense of a complete new cartridge and the effect of the waste and disposal of the old one. Usually, a cartridge can be refilled multiple times.
Effectiveness of Toner Refill Kits
There are several types of refilling processes. In the DIY method, the end user himself refills the toner after mixing the toner powder from a refilling kit they purchased off an eCommerce suppliers or specialist retail stores. The original manufacturer or a host of third party companies specializing in refilling may also do the refilling job for their customers.
The toner is the only part of the cartridge that is depleted through each use. So if an empty cartridge can be filled up with new ink/toner that enables it to be reusable at a mere fraction of the cost involved with buying a new toner.
Cost effectiveness is the key reason behind the purchase of refilling kits. Refilling kits can be purchased at a price far lower than the cost of getting a brand new toner. Furthermore, due to a huge rise in third party companies that offers a refilling service to their customers, the process of refilling has become very easy. In just a few moments using a refilling kit, a customer can get their printers up and running without taking the hassle involved to buy a new toner or printer.
Risks with Toner Refill Kit
There are several risks for refilling toner cartridges. Common problems can include:
- The insufficient lubricant in the toner, leading to drum, developer unit or cleaning blade damage,
- Wrong melting point, leading to fouling in the fusing unit, print rubbing off.
- Wrong electrostatic properties or particle size, leading to a dirty machine and poor quality print.
Large amounts of loose toner in the machine can also cause damage to the mechanisms, and air filters can become clogged, causing overheating
As a fine powder, toner can remain suspended in the air for some period and is an irritant to people with respiratory conditions such as asthma or bronchitis.
Health and safety regulations must be considered when handling, transporting and storing toner powders, which has been designated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible carcinogen. Safety precautions include the use of gloves, and a protective dust mask to prevent inhalation.
It comes down to cost versus risk. You might save a lot of money with toner refill, but if the off-brand toner damages your printer, it costs even more to fix or replace it. There is no definite answer as to whether or not it is worth the risk, as it is purely a matter of opinion, unique to your equipment and usage.