I went today to get a new cartridge for our printer at work and learned some interesting facts about laser printer cartridges. You would think that your printer will continue to print until such time as it runs out toner. We all know the trick of shaking the cartridge to get more prints from it. We were all wrong.

I took an empty cartridge in to get re-filled today. Apparently it was not empty. I asked why it would not print anymore. I was told that there is a chip in the cartridge that limits the number of prints at 5% coverage. So if you have a black cartridge, particularly in a colour printer, with a page limit, there could be toner, a lot of toner, still left in the cartridge. How freaking annoying! What a complete and utter rip off. According to the refill guy I talked to all of the companies do this to some extent.

I find this offensive personally. I feel as though we are not getting the full use of a product for which we pay. A product I might add, that is quite expensive. To add insult to injury the initial cartridge that ships with your printer is designed to only print ½ as many sheets as the replacement cartridge! One company I was told only allows the first cartridge to print ⅓ of the amount.

The cost aside, this cannot be good for the environment. Not everyone recycles or refills their cartridges. So we are, no doubt, filling our landfills with partially used cartridges.I think the only we can mitigate this cartridge planned obsolescence is to refill and recycle them whenever possible. It also really makes no sense to print on draft-quality because the page is going to count whether it uses toner at full strength to cover at 5% or printing it normally. The bottom line is you are not going to get more copies out of your cartridge beyond what they say.


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