UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into printer toner cartridges : a triple bottom line analysis of remanufactured, OEM… Eichorn, Jordan; Leson, Amy; Kilpatrick, Angus; Rideout, Bryan 2013-11-28

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 UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student ReportAmy Leson, Angus Kilpatrick, Bryan Rideout, Jordan EichornAn Investigation Into Printer Toner CartridgesA Triple Bottom Line analysis of remanufactured, OEM and compatible cartridgesAPSC 261November 28, 20139801457University of British Columbia Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.      An Investigation Into Printer Toner Cartridges A Triple Bottom Line analysis of remanufactured, OEM and compatible cartridges                          Jordan Eichorn( ) Amy Leson ) Angus Kilpatrick ( ) Bryan Rideout ( )  APSC 261: Technology and Society Submitted: November 28, 2013 Tutorial Instructor: C. Paterson     IIABSTRACT  The following report outlines our triple-bottom line (TBL) analysis of printer toner cartridges as it applies to procurement at the University of British Columbia. The request for an investigation was brought forward by Faiza Wilson and Paula Goldspink of the UBC Payment and Procurement Strategic Sourcing group.  In contrast to typical bottom-line accounting, which only considers net economic profit or loss for decision making, triple-bottom-line analysis also takes environmental and social factors into account.   Three alternatives of toner cartridges are included in this investigation. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cartridges are purchased new from “brand-name” companies such as Hewlett-Packard or Brother. “Remanufactured” cartridges are produced by a dedicated remanufacturing company, such as Digitech, which collects used OEM cartridges and replaces worn out components and toner. Finally, “compatible” cartridges are manufactured new by a third party to work with OEM printers.  In terms of up-front cost, “compatible” cartridges are by far the cheapest option. However, the 3rd party manufacturers are always based overseas and violate patent and copyright laws; producing products that appear to be OEM but exhibit poor reliability and quality. A failed cartridge can seriously damage a printer and that risk is a major disadvantage of “compatible” cartridges. Remanufactured cartridges were found to be 10-30% cheaper, and exhibit equal or higher quality, than OEM products.  The environmental benefit of a remanufactured cartridge is that it reuses most of the components of an OEM cartridge, whereas a “compatible” cartridge is too low of quality for reuse. This reuse spreads the grams of CO2 and kilograms of material used over an average of 3.5 cycles. Because of the wide range of processes labelled as “remanufacturing”, it is difficult to draw conclusions on the entire industry with regards to recycling. However, Hewlett-Packard (OEM) and Digitech (Remanufactured) were specifically considered and found to have admirable recycling practices, with Digitech using relatively local facilities.  Social aspects were found to be the biggest barrier to more sustainable practice at UBC. Despite Digitech having an existing relationship with UBC BuySmart, none of the survey respondents were aware of the company. Digitech’s local facility and recycling partnerships align well with UBC Sustainability strategies, and free drop-offs and pickups are extremely convenient. The HP “Closed-loop” program requires a local drop-off.   As a result of this investigation, it is recommended that Digitech, or a similar quality remanufacturing company, be promoted to departments for toner purchases. Furthermore, well placed disposal collection points will ensure more cartridges are reused or properly recycled.  IIITABLE OF CONTENTS   Abstract II List of Tables IV List of Figures IV Glossary V   1.0 Introduction 1 2.0 Analysis 2 2.1 Economic 2 2.2 Environmental 3 2.3 Social 9 3.0 Conclusion & Recommendations 11 References 12   Appendix A: Project Option Description 13 Appendix B: D. McConachie Email Correspondence 15 Appendix C: Survey Results from Trevor Yu 16 Appendix D: Sustainability Project Workshop Minutes 17           IVLIST OF TABLES   Table 1: Price comparison of toner cartridges  2 Table 2: A comparison of the carbon dioxide (CO2) generated during the life cycle of a OEM or compatible toner cartridge versus the life cycle of a remanufactured toner cartridge  4 Table 3: A comparison of the number of new components required to produce 1,955 new toner cartridges versus the number of new components required to remanufacture 1,955 toner cartridges  5 Table 4: Digitech’s Recycling Process  8 Table 5: Current Practices  10   LIST OF FIGURES   Figure 1: Comparison of materials (by weight) used in new toner cartridge manufacture versus toner cartridge remanufacture  6 Figure 2: HP’s closed loop recycling process for plastics  7              VGLOSSARY  Compatible Toner Cartridge – A compatible toner cartridge is made by a third party manufacturer and is made up of all new compatible parts. It has a similar quality to an OEM cartridge (often cannot be remanufactured).  OEM Cartridge – An OEM Cartridge is one made by the Original Equipment Manufacturer. If you own a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printer for instance, then the Hewlett-Packard brand is the OEM cartridge for your printer.  Remanufactured Toner Cartridge – A remanufactured toner cartridge is one in which a manufacturer takes an original OEM cartridge, disassembles it, tests and replaces any worn parts, fills it with toner and re-assembles.  


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