I Want My Green Back: How The Printer OEMs Have Co-opted Our Green Message and How We Can Take It Back

By Luke Goldberg //


When I was a young lad, just starting out in this industry, sporting a full head of hair and ready to take the world by storm, I was enlivened by the prospects for what at the time was a nascent industry; full of unlimited possibilities. As with any new industry we were a little ragged, a lot disorganized, and we didn’t really know how to make a quality product but we were learning. The fundamental proposition for our industry seemed unassailable; we offered an alternative to consumers who prior to the advent of our industry didn’t have a choice when it came to their toner cartridges, we offered this alternative at a lower price than the OEM AND as an extra added feature, it was recycled!

Brimming with the idealism of youth it seemed that this was a “can’t miss” proposition to be economically advantageous and green too. What a great business!

Flash forward 20 years; no hair, but still bullish on our future if we could just get back to the simple proposition that propelled us forward in those earl y days. There is no question that we have evolved into a viable, global industry and we have become much more professional from a technical and commercial standpoint. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of one of our most critical underpinnings; we are green AND we save you money!

In the late 2000’s economic Armageddon struck as the housing bubble burst and the globalized economy wretched violently, wracked with sickness emanating from the subprime mortgage crises. We all know, and it has been amply discussed by me and others how this recession bolstered the value proposition of our industry. 2009, and into today our price savings and green message is more resonant than ever yet in these years the OEMs have spent millions telling the world that our products aren’t as green as theirs are.

In these years the largest companies in the world all wanted  to be green; green was the new gold and it was everywhere. Commercials could be seen from OIL companies who talked about their development of alternative energy and how their OIL rigs provided safe haven for Nemo and his buddies. There were butterflies, flowers, and trees everywhere from the biggest corporations in the world whose carbon footprint’s stretched across the globe. Printer OEMs too spent millions painting themselves as green. Printers became more energy efficient and needed less power and time to reach fusing points, deplexing became the norm to reduce paper consumption, and even MPS has its green elements as it ultimately leads to less printing per employee.

In fact, paper usage will never be what it once was as a byproduct of cost control, duplexing, MPS and higher unemployment. In 1999 the average office worker used 65kg of paper annually, as of 2010, it has been reduced to 48kg. The OEMs also continued to publish data that said recycling was indeed better for the earth than remanufacturing. They talked about remanufacturing waste going to landfills, once used cores thrown away, components used once and discarded etc… At the same time OEMs stepped up their core collection (destruction) efforts  to keep cores out of our hands.

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