Ink cartridges used for domestic household purposes are today a fact of most people's lives, but in the twenty years or so since they first entered common usage they have instigated a whole lot of interesting facts and trivia. Here are just a few of the more little known:
Xerography technology was invented by Chester Carlson back in 1938 and what is basically the same technology is still being used in photocopiers and in laser printers today.
Each and every year over 1.1 billion inkjet cartridges are purchased and used worldwide.
Ounce for ounce printer ink costs more than petrol, oil or space rocket fuel.
Over 45 million printer ink cartridges are dumped in landfill sites every year in the UK.
Recycling ink cartridges could save 15 million litres of oil from being used in the Britain each year.
In Europe some 17 million toner cartridges were recycled during the last five years alone. This saved 6 million litres of virgin oil from being used, which is enough to fill up three Olympic sized swimming pools.
It has been forecast that by 2012 there will be over half a billion toner cartridges and 1.8 billion ink cartridges in landfill.
97% of all components from a typical toner cartridge are reusable.
Plastics in toner and ink cartridges take up to 1000 years to totally biodegrade.
13 ink cartridges are disposed of every second in the USA.
Between 20% and 30% of all ink and toner cartridges sold around the world are remanufactured.
All this information and much more that is widely available to us serves to demonstrate the sheer size and magnitude of ink cartridge use today. It also emphasises the need to recycle consumables that have expired. As demand and usage increases, so inevitably will this need.
The cost of producing forever more plastic casing and components for dispensing what is an essentially fluid material is in effect a dead charge.
Manufacturers would certainly be happy to reduce their charges to the customer if recycling was increased and if more reusable components became available to them. Reusing existing peripherals where it can be done is an absolute no-brainer for everyone involved.
There can be very few household commodities the use of which grown on the scale of printer ink cartridges. It would be interesting to see whether a realistic comparison exists with any other product, though the growth in home computer usage and the low cost of the printing hardware itself renders it somewhat unlikely.