Starting an Ink and Toner Cartridge Refilling Business

Ink cartridge
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Do you use a printer in your home or office that uses refillable cartridges? Replacing your empty printer or copier cartridges every time you run out is expensive and over time can cause damage to the environment. Businesses that provide ink and toner cartridge refilling can save consumers money and help protect the environment from unnecessary waste.

If you want to help the environment and save your customers money, a small business as an ink and toner cartridge re-filler may be a good idea for you. Consider some of the pros and cons of the refilling business.

Advantages of a Toner Business

Close to 375 million toner and ink cartridges are thrown away every year. That's a lot of plastic, ink, and toner going into landfills with the potential to pollute soil and water.

A business refilling cartridges can help limit the amount of waste and educate clients and others on the environmental benefits of the service you provide.

There are resources online for learning to refill ink and toner cartridges. With a little bit of practice, you can master the process within minutes. For ink cartridges, it's generally just a matter of drawing ink into a syringe, then injecting it carefully into the cartridge.

For toner, the process can be a little more difficult because not all cartridges have a fill hole, so you'll need to learn how to do so safely.

As expensive as it is to buy ink cartridges and toner cartridges, it would seem that the actual ink would be more expensive than it is, but it is not. While ink cartridges can cost more than $50 apiece and toner cartridges can cost more than $500, you can buy a gallon of ink for about $80—and that should be enough to refill nearly 400 ink cartridges.

Bulk toner is more expensive. A bottle providing a single refill can range from about $10 to $40, but that's still a fraction of what an entirely new cartridge costs.

Disadvantages of a Toner Business

Many stores offer refilling services for ink cartridges, charging prices that range from about $7 to $15 (plus the costs of the ink and toner), depending on the brand and style of the cartridge. To be successful you need to establish your business as a reliable alternative to services being provided by brand-name stores.

Some potential customers might prefer bringing their empty cartridges to a store as opposed to inviting someone into their home to do the job.

Acquiring business accounts may require you to offer more than just refilling services. Even small businesses are using far more ink and toner than individuals and most businesses you encounter have maintenance agreements in place with printer supply and repair companies.

These deals often already include ink and toner recycling and refilling. In order to compete, you might need to offer complete maintenance services for printers and copiers.

You may be competing with larger office supply chain stores or other chains who offer recycling services. These large chains are tough to compete with, as the amount of business they generate allows them to offer lower recycle prices.