EU wants printer refills made easier to recycle

The European Parliament wants printer makers to manufacture reusable and recyclable printer ink cartridges and to refrain from forcing consumers to buy their own-brand refills. The Parliament voted Wednesday to ratify the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which includes provisions requiring companies to make their products easier to reuse and recycle.

The Directive includes a “product design” provision aimed at preventing printer manufacturers from using technology in printer ink cartridges to keep the cartridges from being recycled or reused by refilling the cartridge with ink. Manufacturers used these “clever chips” to get around recycling rules, the Parliament said in a statement.

The aim of the directive is to compel member states to minimize the disposal by consumers of so-called electroscrap as unsorted municipal waste. The European Union wants to ensure that IT and telecommunications equipment such as computer mainframes, minicomputers, PCs and notebooks, and peripherals including printers can be reused or recycled in some manner if possible.

Printer companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., Epson Inc., Canon Inc. and Lexmark International Inc. may suffer financially from such a law as revenues from nonreusable cartridges could be significantly affected.

The Parliament’s Directive calls for printer companies to build technical design features into printer ink cartridges at the production stage that allows for the dismantling and recovery of the used cartridges as well as for reuse.

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