Frequently Asked Questions
Laser and toner cartridges can be reused, or remanufactured,
by disassembling and cleaning each cartridge, replacing
any worn parts and refilling the cartridge with toner.
The practice was originated in the early 1980s and has
advanced to a scientific process.
Today the remanufactured cartridge industry
is a $6 billion industry served by an international
What is remanufacturing?
The toner cartridges in your printer or copier can be
remanufactured instead of being thrown away. Many companies
are in the business of remanufacturing these cartridges.
A remanufactured cartridge is one that has been used
at least once and prepared for reuse. Laser and toner
cartridges can be reused, or remanufactured, by disabling
and cleaning each cartridge, replacing any worn parts
and refilling the cartridge with toner. The practice
was originated in the early 1980s and has advanced to
a scientific process.
What are OEMs?
OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers, are the companies
that manufacture imaging supplies equipment including
cartridges. A few of the most commonly known OEMs include
Lexmark, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Canon, Brother, Epson,
Xerox and Ricoh.
Why should I buy remanufactured?
1. Save money – Whether
it is for your business or home use, remanufactured
cartridges cost on average 30-50 percent less than original
2. Help the environment
– Cartridge remanufacturing keeps more than 42,000
tons of plastic, metal and toner out of the waste stream.
For example, for every cartridge that is remanufactured,
a “core,” or spent cartridge, is reused.
Each core is made of approximately two and a half pounds
of plastic, and, but for remanufacturers, that core
would end up going into the waste stream. The plastic
used in a typical cartridge is industrial-grade and
does not begin to degrade for at least 10 centuries,
or 1,000 years.
By ensuring that your empty cartridges go to a local
remanufacturer, you know they will be reused. The OEMs
do not reuse cartridges. They are either ground up or
abandoned in third world countries. Visit www.consumerchoice.info
to read about the affects of e-waste on a small town
How much can I save?
The real issue is not on how much money you can save
per cartridge, the real issue is how much you can save
on each page you print.
The lowest priced remanufactured cartridges may not
be your best bargain. And the one that prints the most
pages might cost you more per page.
Ask your source of remanufactured cartridges:
1. What is the page yield of this cartridge using ASTM
2. Using that number, what is the cost to print a standard
five percent page?
Why are OEM cartridges so expensive?
Because, as a great bank robber used to say when asked
why he robbed banks, “That’s where the money
Just as in the past century, razor blade companies
sold their razors at cost or less so that consumers
would have to buy their blades again and again, printer
manufacturers sell their machine (laser or ink) for
little more than cost—sometimes less. They make
all of their profits on selling the cartridges and that
profit is astronomical. According to a Boston-based
research firm, Lyra Research, Inc., one OEM (Lexmark)
realizes as much as 50 percent profits on its supplies
You may have noticed that the cost of printers is becoming
cheaper and cheaper. You may have bought your home printer
for under $100 and office printers have gone under the
$1,000 mark—a huge departure from the past.
Did you also notice that the prices for supplies for
those printers are not decreasing? This is a common
marketing scheme. Sell the machine cheaply and make
money on the supplies. The OEMs make the lion’s
share of their profits in these supplies, because they
have adopted a razor and blade business model. The OEMs
sell their printers at low or no profit, because they
make up their lost profits – and then some –
on the supplies.
How do I go about remanufacturing my cartridges?
You cannot do it well yourself. There is much more involved
than simply refilling the cartridges with ink or toner.
The companies that sell do-it-yourself kits have very
few repeat customers. See www.consumerchoice.info for
There is a state-by state list of Int’l ITC members
and how to contact them on the www.consumerchoice.info
website. There are hundreds of dealers who will offer
products and buy back cartridges. To find a dealer nearest
you, click on the Find a Dealer logo.
What should I look for in a remanufacturer?
The quickest, easiest and sure way to find a reputable
cartridge remanufacturer near you is by using the Find
a Dealer tool on www.consumerchoice.info. Once you have
identified companies in your area, research each company
website to find its product offerings or call or e-mail
a sales representative. You will want to ask:
1.) What type of service guarantee do they offer, and
2.) Is the company STMC certified, which means that
its products have been quality tested by an independent
Also, beware of scams and fraud, especially from toner-phoners
who call with deals too good to be true. See the Smart
Consumer section of www.consumerchoice.info.
It’s the Smart Choice
How do I know I am getting a quality product
and not something inferior?
The proof is in the pudding. You will know if the print
quality meets your expectations and it will only take
a few cartridges before you know if you are getting
more or fewer pages per cartridge.
If you want to improve your chances of getting
high quality cartridges before you buy them, you can:
1. Read advertising and warranties carefully, and
2. Ask for specifications based upon independent third-party
Many remanufacturers regularly supply their customers
with detailed information regarding the product’s
specification, performance and track record. It is in
their competitive self interest to promote such information
to their customers.
Additionally, remanufacturers can become STMC-certified
for quality. The aftermarket industry has worked with
an independent standardized test developing organization,
ASTM, to create tests for business imaging products.
These tests are reviewed and then adopted by the industry’s
standardized test methods committee (STMC), and members
of the industry then obtain certification through extensive
training in the use of those testing protocols. Once
a company has proven that it understands and uses the
test methods routinely, it is certified and the company
may then display an STMC logo attesting to that certification
on its products.
Lyra Research, Inc. did an independent study of medium-
to large-sized businesses that use imaging supplies,
both new and remanufactured. The report concluded that
almost 80 percent of those businesses that used remanufactured
cartridges found them to be equal to or exceed OEM performance.
What happens if I get a bad cartridge?
Most reputable remanufacturers will repair the product
under the warranty they provide with their cartridges.
What about service?
Many reputable remanufacturers offer no cost printer
cleaning. It is in their best interest that your printer
be kept clean. Regular cleaning is also required by
most OEM printer manufacturer warranties.
Many also offer printer repair services. Check into
their training. Were they self-taught? Did they attend
a class? Are they certified by the manufacturers of
your printer to do warranty work? If a manufacturer
certifies them for warranty and repair work, they most
probably know what they are doing.
Who uses remanufactured cartridges?
Small and large organizations in varying industries
are finding the rewards of purchasing remanufactured
cartridges. For example more and more government agencies
are saving taxpayers money by using remanufactured products
and public school systems are participating in incentive
programs by collecting used cartridges and turning them
into remanufacturers for money or other school equipment
I tried this before and did not like the product.
Why should I try again?
In the early days of cartridge remanufacturing, there
was a lack of real technical knowledge, critical supplies
and replacement parts. The early remanufacturers often
could not afford the equipment necessary to adequately
test their products.
These shortcomings have been solved.
Thanks to advanced technology and the STMC certification
process, today cartridge remanufacturers can offer products
that are world-class competition to those of the OEMs.
Real testing, standards, knowledge and experience has
transformed what once was a small cottage industry into
a burgeoning industry that can offer great products
and amazing values. The key is to choose a remanufacturer
who knows what to do and does it consistently.
Quality is no longer a guessing game. It is a serious
We lease our office machines. Don’t we
have to use their supplies for best results?
No! Remanufactured products can offer equal results.
Just like the OEMs, many service firms overprice their
cartridges to increase their profits. Leases and service
contracts vary widely but most offer supplies options.
I heard that using a remanufactured cartridge
would void my printer warranty. Is this true?
No! OEM warranties require that any damage to the hardware
has to be directly related to the use of a remanufactured
or third-party product. And in those unusual circumstances,
reputable remanufacturers repair the product under the
warranty they provide with their cartridges.
The warranty policies of the major printer makers are
listed in the Consumer Info section of www.consumerchoice.info.
Not one of them prohibits the use of remanufactured
cartridges as a condition of full warranty service.
What machines can use remanufactured cartridges?
Cartridges are in any printer or copier in your home
or office. No matter what type of machine you own or
what type of cartridge it takes, it is available remanufactured,
or soon will be.