Should Small Business Buy Refilled Ink Cartridges? HP’s Answer Might Surprise You.

HP-InkIn an understandable effort to save money, many small business owners have considered and/or used refilled ink cartridges for their inkjet or laserjet printers. If they’re not “refilled”, I know many folks have bought printing ink (toner) supplies that are not manufactured by their original manufacturer.

I think part of this debate could be like religion and part of it could be like science – there is factually a right and a wrong answer. I’ve invited HP’s Michael Borg, Portfolio Lead and Strategic Business Manager – LaserJet Supplies to share his thoughts on this topic.

With cost being top of mind for small businesses, many companies question the necessity of investing in original vendor printing supplies, also called original equipment manufacturer (OEM) supplies. Remanufactured inks and toners may seem more affordable at first glance, but that can be misleading. It is important to assess the many costs of printing when making a purchasing decision. Inks and toners are not “one size fits all” products. For example, Original HP toner particles are specifically engineered based on size, shape, charge and melting point in order to perform seamlessly with the needs of each print device. Up to 70 percent of the print system lies within the Original HP toner cartridge. Using remanufactured toner products instead of original vendor supplies is like putting improperly engineered gas in a vehicle that is designed to run only on premium fuel. You will likely be able to get from point A to point B, but could damage the engine over time and cause your vehicle’s performance to suffer.

Using remanufactured toner products instead of original vendor supplies is like putting improperly engineered gas in a vehicle that is designed to run only on premium fuel.

Don’t cut corners where it counts.

The price for poor-quality printing adds up. As small businesses strive to cut costs, office supplies, like printer ink and toner, are often targets for reevaluation. While the initial cost of generic ink and toner can be appealing, it’s important to note that these off-brand products can wind up costing you in the end.

For example, when purchasing remanufactured cartridges, you must account for the extra paper, supplies and time that is needed to compensate for poor print quality, including streaks, fading or color shifts.[1],[2] These costs are often overlooked and are more common than you may realize.

  • Buyers Laboratory found that more than 70 percent of refilled ink cartridges failed during use or right out of the box.
  • Additionally, SpencerLab found that  1 in 3 non-HP toner cartridges tested exhibited a problem. 

Protect yourself from counterfeit.

If you decide that you prefer to use original vendor supplies, make sure you’re getting what you paid for. Even if it looks and feels like an Original HP ink or toner cartridge, you could be misled into purchasing an illegal, unauthorized, refilled, remanufactured or cloned reproduction.[4] To detect and avoid counterfeit products, look for HP security seals with QR code technology and HP official packaging, and use the HP Cartridge Authentication feature that comes standard with all HP inkjet printers and All-in-Ones.

Take steps to increase sustainability.

Remanufactured ink and toner suppliers may or may not have a process in place for responsible reuse and disposal of cartridges. Recycling is part of the product lifecycle, and HP helps make the experience free and easy for you. In fact, HP customers have kept 566 million Original HP ink and LaserJet cartridges out of landfills by recycling them through the HP Planet Partners program. The raw plastic from these recycled cartridges is often used to produce new Original HP print cartridges. More than 75 percent of ink cartridges and 24 percent of HP LaserJet toner cartridges are now manufactured with “closed loop” recycled plastic.[5]

The bottom line.

A discount ink or toner cartridge may not really be a discount. Assess the many costs of using remanufactured inks and toners, and reconsider cutting corners related to print quality and performance.



About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, & Infusionsoft. Full bio at . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Mitchell

    HP’s answer has to be the least surprising answer in all history. You’re asking a guy from HP whether their customers should buy the same product from someone other than HP? Seriously? This is supposed to be some kind of objectivity? What price is self respect Ramon?

    • Ramon Ray

      Mitchell, great point and thanks so much for sharing. As a matter of context I had an earlier article in fact questioning the value or need for vendor manufactured ink cartridges. This article was a chance I have to HP to give their opinion on the earlier piece. I appreciate your feedback though – for sure!

      • Mitchell

        Ramon, I appreciate your position as a champion of small business – and someone who has bills to pay. No sweat. Just thought you should know how this article comes across.