Today's burning Green question

A good friend of mine, formerly in the office supply business but nowadays a Dragon Soldier, tells me that when I replace an exhausted inkjet cartridge from my HP Photosmart 2500-series all-in-one printer and ship it back to HP Planet Partners in Tennessee, they do not refill it and ship it out to another grateful HP user.

Triangular contorted RECYCLED arrows to the contrary. He says they just throw 'em out. The postage-paid return envelope gives them Green cred and reduces the likelihood of customers refilling the little bastards and denying HP the repeat business.

I will probably never attempt refilling inkjet cartridges. It looks like something best left to companies that know how to manufacture them in the first place, or at least companies that can offer warranties on the performance of the refilled product.

Now, "throw them out" can also include offering the plastic package to the recycling gods, to be washed of all traces of ink, harvested of the little printed-circuit ribbon, and ground up, prior to reincarnation as Old Navy Performance Fleece. That qualifies as recycling in my book, but to many other Boomers it means an empty Rolling Rock bottle will be refilled with more Rolling Rock. Shame on us for unrealistic expectations.

But if my friend is right, I'm paying for the spent cartridge to be shipped to a distant place for proper disposal, not just in bucks but in the ethereal new coinage, marginal carbon footprint. I'd rather pay less and have it shlepped to the other side of town (versus other side of the Continent) for hashing back into its component molecules.

What's the business case here? Spending $.90 (postage and envelope) to gather up a plastic cartridge that cost $.10 to make and will be worth $.0005 as cullet polymer? Meanwhile releasing about a quarter of its mass as CO2 in the process to move it, strip it, and grind it? Raw deal, I think. What say you?

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