Consumers and regulators alike increasingly expect product manufacturers to take the lead in managing their products’ end of life. While some sectors will hold out until legally required to change some of the world’s biggest printer companies have been leading the way for several years.
Research from Pollinate has found that 74% of Australians think that manufacturers should take more responsibility in managing the end of life of their products.
Otherwise known as product stewardship such an arrangement can take many forms, for example via mandatory programs such as New South Wales’ container deposit scheme in which drink suppliers/manufacturers help to pay for the system.
Other products are managed voluntarily. While such a system lacks the power of a political mandate, it’s easier to institute and manage and doesn't rely on the prevailing politics of the day.
Cartridges 4 Planet Ark (C4PA) is an ideal example of such a system, with original equipment manufacturers* (OEMs) Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta and Kyocera all choosing to put money and marketing effort behind the printer cartridge recycling program.
With the help of Melbourne resource recovery company Close the Loop and Planet Ark they have ensured that their printer cartridges can be easily dropped off for recycling almost anywhere in Australia. These cartridges can then be used to make a range of products, including Enviroliner pens, eWood garden beds and TonerPlas road surfaces.
Of course, this collaboration wouldn’t be possible without the help of retailers, the most notable being Officeworks which has a C4PA collection box in every store. The other retailer partners include Australia Post, Cartridges Direct, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Office National.
As you can see despite the added flexibility voluntary product stewardship doesn’t come easy – it requires cooperation between a range of organisations, a complex logistical network and community participation.
Despite those challenges C4PA is doing better than ever after 16 years, with over 41 million cartridges returned thanks to the support of the OEMs as well as people at work and home who recycle their cartridges.
For more information, or to order a cartridge collection box for your workplace, visit https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/cartridges4planetark/.