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Don't Print This Blog on Earth DayPosted Tuesday, April 20, 2010, at 9:45 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency says it is not truly recycled unless it is reused -- through remanufacture, no matter what "it" is.
In 1970, Apollo 13 was launched, Monday Night Football premiered, one of our sons (who shall remain nameless) turned 1. And, Earth Day was born on April 22.
According to the Earth Day Network Website, in its first year approximately 20 million Americans participated. Forty years later, they claim "Earth Day is the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.' Whether this is strictly true or not, the birth of Earth Day -- and with it worldwide interest in saving the environment -- was an idea whose time had come.
In the intervening years we have all seen environmental concerns transformed from an aggravating truth advocated by fringe groups, to a dire necessity advertised by any company wanting to get on the bandwagon. The bandwagon thing is probably a good development for all of us.
Kay and my particular contribution to saving the world's environment has taken the form of remanufacturing laser toner cartridges, and in reselling refilled and generic inkjet printer cartridges. Started as a part-time endeavor back in 1997, the business was merged into Computer Central. There is no exact record, but it is likely we (mostly Kay) have recycled as many as 6,000 laser cartridges and almost that many inkjets.
When we started "save the world one print cartridge at a time" was not a strong selling point. Back when I was still able to solicit business, the selling point was cost (OK, still is).
Now we do see strong emphasis in our nation or recycling and reusing, and the environmental impact of the explosion of home and small business printers.
Most of the following is a bit out of date (the problem is much greater than when I was first writing about the subject), and all of it applies primarily to laser cartridges. Information available about inkjet cartridges indicates they are becoming an even bigger environmental disaster.
1. According to statistics available in 1998 an estimated 800,000 laser cartridges are sold every week. It is estimated only 240,000 are recycled. That means a potential of 560,000 one-time-used cartridges go to landfills every week! (And this was before the "explosion" in inkjet printer use!) The plastic used in a typical cartridge is industrial-grade and takes approximately 1,000 years to decompose. Our 6,000 ain't that big a dent in the problem, but it is 1,000 years in our local landfills we're talking about.
2. On average, three quarts of oil are used to make each new cartridge. That would mean we kept 4,500 gallons of oil from being used by some manufacturer. It is estimated 30 percent of all print cartridges are now recycled, not at all sure what that comes out in keeping down the cost of a barrel of oil.
So, help celebrate Earth Day this year by Not wasting ink or toner printing out this Blog.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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