28 January 2008

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Inc.

When it comes to packaging, why is there so much stuff?

It really makes me wonder what the makers of some products are thinking when they package their goods... specifically, the makers and/or packagers of ink cartridges. In an attempt to protect myself from unwanted lawsuits, I have disguised the names of these manufacturers... because it's not about whos doing what, but more about what is being done.

My experiences with ink cartridges is limited to 3 brands; Fepson, Scanon & Bhp. What I write here is not at all scientific and is based solely on my use of the ink products for the three disguised brands... here is how they measure up:

1. Fepson. I have owned 6 Fepson printers and really like their print quality as well as their ease of use. Simple, like me. Their packaging however, is not simple at all. First, if you buy the combo pack (bw + colour) you have to get some industrial scissors to cut open the blister pack, then you have two boxes, inside each box is a perforated cello strap which I believe holds the product in place after you open the cardboard box (yeah, go figure), after you tear away the perforated cello strap, you can remove the product, which is inside of an air tight clear cello bag, when you open the bag, you are just one more step away from using the product - a tear away strip of plastic film over the print heads. I may not know all the facts, but I do know this - that's WAY too much packaging for an item that is by its very nature disposable. The air tight cello bag could be printed and die cut to have a peg hole in the top - and there you go - a new package that uses a lot less materials. In addition to that, the colour ink is all in one, so if you run out of yellow, you have to throw out your cyan and magenta, just to get your yellow up to snuff.

Fepson, you waste more on useless packaging than is acceptable and for that, I will begin to phase out your printers in our office and replace them with another brand.

2. Scanon. I have one wide format Scanon printer that I paid a lot for (it dropped in price by 1/3 about 3 weeks after I purchased it). The print quality of this machine is awesome and it has 6 ink cartridges, which means if you run out of yellow, you need to replace only the yellow. The ink cartridges are sold separately which is nice, there are convenience packs, not convenient for my use though, but I may not be in the 'average' use market. Each cartridge comes in a box, which contains a clear vacuum packed cello bag with the cartridge inside.... the cartridge itself has a plastic tab on the bottom which has to be broken off to be placed into the machine. So, the tab, the plastic bag go back into the box and into the garbage. Surely, with a product that has an affixed plastic tab, they can forgo the packaging entirely and put the cartridge on a card with a peg hole.

Scanon, you waste less than Fepson and have terrific print quality... you can stand to waste even less. I will look at Scanon to replace my Fepson printers.

3. Bhp. I use a Bhp printer at home, and I bought it because it did everything (scan, print & read digital media cards). The print quality is not impressive at all, the blacks seem to sit above the paper, giving photographs a real cheesy quality. The thing that really bugs me though is that there is no warning when you are out of ink, it just keeps pushing paper through... with prints getting shittier and shittier with each piece of paper that goes through. Not good when you've sent a large document through to print. So, you run out of yellow, on page 4 of a 47 page document and you get 43 really shitty looking pages... and after you replace the 'tri-colour' cartridge (for just one colour) you have to re-print the job again. The cartridge comes in a fortified box (extra cardboard bits inside for extreme handling), inside that is a printed foil bag re-enforced from the inside with even more card stock, inside that is your cartridge, with a clear plastic film over the print heads that needs to be removed. This comes with a full colour brochure that is folded into a tiny square (which I have never even opened until this blog) as well as a postage paid envelope. The envelope is for you to send your old print cartridge in for recycling - this is by far, the best thing I have seen from any company in any industry (huge green applause to Bhp) to help to reduce waste... assuming it's going somewhere that it will be reused or recycled.

Bhp, you waste less than Fepson, but your prints are gross. You have a terrific recycling program which makes me feel good about using your products - I will by other Bhp products, but not another printer, unless the print technology changes (which is has already I'm sure... it's been 6 months since I bought it).

Any ways, there you go - one grumpy guy's rant over a waste in packaging. When you're designing the packaging for your next widget, don't create waste, use only what you need and use it wisely (make it reusable, or recyclable). Don't just create your packaging a certain way because that's the way it's been done or because that's what the customer expects... we expect more... or less, in this case.


Anonymous Jordan said...

Check out a phaser 8560 printer from xerox if you don't like packaging.

3/21/2008 11:00:00 AM  

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