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Throw Away Printers Hurting Our Planet, Your Business

Throw Away Printers Recycled

Why do they make throw away printers?

Manufacturers such as Lexmark (LXK), Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Xerox (XRX) traditionally subsidize the initial cost of the printer leading us to a throw away printers society. They  make up for it as customers buy high-margin replacement toner and ink. When the typical printer used to cost $700, and the replacement ink/toner was priced at $30-$50, this strategy worked fine. Customers tended to own the machine far longer and buy multiple replacement cartridges instead of choosing to throw away printers.

As with all electronics, however, hardware prices declined rapidly. When one could occasionally find a basic black-and-white inkjet printer (with ink) on sale for as low a price as the replacement ink cartridge. Customers realized the printer was a better deal than the ink alone and frequently would throw away printers and upgrade to a newer printer rather than buy replacement ink.  They don’t tell you however, these initial inks are only filled to about 20% capacity to get you to buy new inks quicker!

Throw Away Printers earthThis action hurt the manufacturers in two ways: first it resulted in a new printer sale at a negative profit margin, and second, it deprived them of the ink sale that was supposed to make the original printer profitable over its life span. Suddenly, instead of a five year life span and dozens of ink replacements, customers  throw away printers after  1-2 years and only replace the ink a handful of times.

Anyone can guess what happens next — three years later we have color, duplex laser printers for $200.  It won’t be long before the color laser MFP is selling for less than $100, and by then the old business model will be completely dead. And we aren’t even talking about the ink/toner refill business, which continues to grow and further cuts into the potential profits.

Throw Away Printers LandfillSustainability initiatives have certainly opened people’s eyes to some of these facts.  Thankfully, the government stepped in and controls the method by which these throw away printers are disposed, or our landfills might be full of toxic waste.  The solution is simple; customers should pay more up front for a nice machine and less on supplies.  These units are repairable and over their 5 to 10 year life span, they wind up costing considerably less per page than the newer throw away printers.   This would help stop the Big Corporations from squeezing out all the small businesses that repair equipment and keep our landfills free of toxic waste.

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