Remanufactured Toner cartridges – Making the environmental choice

When it comes to buying toner cartridges, it generally comes down to making the right choice for YOU and your environment. Nowadays, the environmentally-conscious customer wants to make an informed choice and lessen the impact to our precious resources and environment.

You have 3 choices when it comes to buying a replacement toner cartridge for your laser printer. The choice are OEM, remanufactured and Chinese-made compatibles. Which one of those 3 are the best for our environment and quality? The guide below should have you in making the correct choice..


OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridges are the cartridges that came with your new printer or are manufactured and branded by one of the Big Five laser printer makers. They are Brother, Canon, Hewlet Packard (HP), Lexmark, Samsung. Some of these manufacturers also make the printers and cartridges for re-branded printers such as Dell (Canon, Lexmark and Samsung). However, the Dell cartridges may look exactly the same as thier OEM brothers, but Dell has thier own chips or slight differences that prevent cross-compatibility.

OEM cartridges are designed and manufactured under strict specifications and quality control to work for the printer they are designed for. When these cartridges become empty, they are either returned to the manufacturer or sold/given to remanufacturers for remanufacturing. Because of the strict quality control and specifications, these empties are perfect for remanufacturing back to the same quality as OEMs. Some OEMs even remanufacture thier own empties and sell them back to the market as brand new. They are not doing anything different that what we do, except our prices are MUCH lower!

Environmental impact: Low


Reputable remanufacturers take the empty OEM cartridges and follow a strict routine in fully remanufacturing the OEM empties. A reputable remanufacturer will carefully inspect each empty for flaws, cracks and they will completely disassemble each cartridge down to the bare plastic core. Every single piece is inspected for wear and tear, flaws, defects and those parts replaced with brand new components. After the cartridges have been filled with fresh, dedicated toner powder, it is then re-assembled with new parts and fully print-tested each and every time and only put up for sale when it passes all the checks and tests.

Parts that have been replaced are then broken down and sent to the recyclers such as the cardboard, metal and plastics recyclers. Very little ends up in the landfills, if any. An environmentally-conscious remanufacturer such as us will use recyclable and/or re-usable packaging to ship thier cartridges.

Reputable remanufacturers take immense pride in the quality of thier product. They tend to have years of experience in the printer business and have accumulated knowledge of thier product and it’s use, so that they can stand behind thier knowledge and skills and use them to benefit the consumer. A skilled remanufacturer carries information in his head that often they don’t need to look at lists to determine which cartridge goes into which printer. If a customer got a defective cartridge, the remanufacturer will work with the customer to ensure the customer gets the quality they paid for and the defective cartridge will be torn down and the parts sent to the recyclers, not thrown in the dumpster.

Environmental impact: Very, very low


Compatibles are generally made in China and are NOT endorsed by the OEMs. They are copies of the original OEM cartridges and the majority of them are made with poor quality control, poorly designed parts and generic toner. They are produced in the millions for very little cost and with NO regards to the safety and health of thier workers, the customer or the environment. This low quality often leads to leakage or breaking parts that can damage your printer and spread the micro-fine toner dust all over your desk and work environment. How many of you have read the horror stories about melamine-laced pet food, lead in childrens toys and heavy metals in charms? They all came from the SAME country.

The compatibles resellers tout these cartridges as “BRAND NEW” and while they are brand new, the lack of quality controls and premium materials used in thier manufacturing negates that. Would you believe that many compatibles resellers simply bought a skid of them from Chinese manufacturers and only paid as low as $5 each and are selling them from thier basements for $30-$50 each?? What experience do they have in this industry?

No reputable remanufacturer will remanufacture an empty compatible cartridge due to the poor quality of the plastic shells, thus the empties end up in our landfills!

Packaging of compatibles are often not recyclable nor re-usable, thus they also end up in our landfills.

Comparing compatibles with OEM or remanufactured cartridges is like comparing a fake Rolex watch (compatible) to a REAL Rolex watch (OEM) or a real Rolex watch rebuilt by a highly skilled watchmaker (Remanufactured). The fake Rolex will break down within months and be tossed in the trash. The real Rolex will end up in the watchmaker’s hands and get rebuilt to like new condition.

Most compatibles resellers have no experience with thier product or it’s usage. If a customer comes in and asks a compatibles reseler for a cartridge for a certain printer, the seller often has to consult a list to find out which cartridge works in that printer. If a customer returns with a defective cartridge, the reseller often tosses it in the dumpster and just gives the customer a new one. That’s only IF the seller doesn’t try to blame the printer or the customer for it being defective! As with many cheap, Chinese-made products, you get what you paid for.

Environmental impact: VERY VERY HIGH


The other two options that you should not even consider due to many problems are those that simply refill your cartridge for you and those that buy do-it-yourself kits. The ordinary refiller just drills or burns a hole in your cartridge and dumps a bottle of toner in it. In many cases, they don’t even have the test printer for it. the problem with doing it that way is there is a much higher chance of leakage into your printer plus the waste hopper doesn’t get emptied and cleaned out, which allows toner to get even more packed in it and with no place to go, it will leak out on your prints and inside your printer.

The do-it-yourself’er is pretty much the same as the refiller, but without the skill and knowledge of what to look for, 50% of the time you wasted your money as many cartridge can only go one cycle before major parts such as blades and drums need to be replaced, parts that rarely come with the do-it-yourself kits. Also the toner powder is a very fine micro particle that floats in the air and can get all over your carpet, desk, printer and yourself.

Messy, eh?

If you value your printer, need relaibility and quality, stay away from the DIY kits and refillers and pick a quality remanufacturer or a brand new OEM cartridge.

Hopefully this guide will help you make a resposible and informed decision when you purchase your next toner cartridge. When you buy local, such as from OEMs and remanufacturers, you not only get the great quality you deserve, you also preserve local jobs. Make the correct choice by buying from us at On The Spot Toner & Ink!