Recycler to launch business

A recycling initiative, scheduled for an April launch, will slash the cost of operating computer printers, save space in government landfills and boost the environment, according to local entrepreneur Allan Foster,

Mr. Foster’s new Cartridge Depot, an outgrowth of his car- battery recycling venture, will reduce the cost of inkjet and toner cartridges by nearly half while radically reducing the waste and pollution created daily by discarded parts.

‘This is big business because no one else is doing it,’ Mr. Foster said.

‘People spend tens of thousands of dollars on inkjets and toner, while all the old ones go into landfills. Lots and lots are discarded every day,’ he said.

Mr. Foster’s Cartridge Depot flyer claims that medium-sized businesses use between 200 cartridges and 600 cartridges each year. Schools use as many as 200 annually.

‘Hundreds of thousands’ are discarded in Cayman each year, the document says, while each remanufactured part saves nearly three-and-a-half pounds of solid waste, which can take 450 years to decompose.

Additionally, the cost of an inkjet cartridge for home use is between $30 and $40. Businesses and schools pay more for larger and more sophisticated parts.

‘After I finish recycling and rebuilding (an inkjet or toner cartridge) I can sell it back at 50 per cent less than retail,’ Mr. Foster said.

‘Each product will be bagged, packaged and sealed after it’s done.

‘The recycled product will be the same quality (as the original) and they are all guaranteed. It’s a professional service,’ he said.

Mr. Foster declined to specify his investment in machinery, tools, training and test procedures, saying only that his equipment was similar to that used by original manufacturers.

‘I’d rather not say because it’s a personal matter, but it cost a lot,’ he said.

However, a spokesman for Xerox said that the company had declined to start its own local recycling program because of costs, although it recycles in the US.

‘We looked at it, but the equipment and shipping were all expensive. It doesn’t really pay, although there may be potential for the business,’ she said.

Xerox service technician Frank Williams said the chief obstacle to cartridge recycling was quality control.

‘We don’t encourage it because there is no control over what people do. For example, we need to use Xerox parts in a Xerox product,’ he said, pointing out that use of other parts might void any warranty on the machine.

Additionally, he said, ‘every machine is different and has a different type of toner and a different type of ink. It depends on what (he) intends to do.

‘He could just drill a small hole and put some powder in. How is he going to guarantee this? Is he going to repair the printer?’

Mr. Foster is unfazed by Mr. Williams doubts.

‘I am a Cartridge Depot franchisee,’ he says, ‘and this is a business that is growing rapidly, expanding in the US, Canada and Europe.’

The original Cartridge Depot was founded seven years ago in Boca Raton in partnership with a Brazilian manufacturer.

Mr. Foster said the approval to open a Cayman branch came only after a long vetting process.

‘I travelled to Boca, met the president, and we went back and forth a lot for training.

‘My machinery is the same as the manufacturer’s. None of the (ink) refills are manual; it’s all done by machine and is very professional,’ Mr. Foster said.

He plans to begin cartridge collection immediately, accumulating inventory in anticipation of his April opening.

‘We’ll provide a container basket at each office, business and school. Individuals can drop off cartridges at our office or the nearest school.

‘When the baskets are full, I’ll pick them up for free,’ he said.

Mr. Foster said he could refill 80 inkjets and rebuild between 20 toner cartridges and 30 toner cartridges each day, incurring costs of between $2 and $3 per unit.

‘It’s a huge market and I am the only franchisee here. There are different sizes and types of machines, and (previously) no one thought they could make money with recycled items.’

That may be set to change.

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