In efforts to reuse, versus recycle, I designed a package that would enable the HP Ink consumer to send back their empty ink cartridge in the self addressed, same box that the new ink cartridge is bought in. Conceptually, HP would start a “refilling” option, where the user would order their next cartridge online ahead of time and receive a discount by entering a the code found on the box.
I chose to use recycled chipboard as my material and to screen print the graphics (using only process inks cyan, magenta, yellow and black).
The ink cartridges are packaged separately, allowing the consumer to purchase only the ink that is empty – Black or CMY. The package also provides a simple and quick solution for recycling empty ink cartridges.
The ink cartridge process goes as follows:
- Ink Cartridge low prompts on the printer– You’ve run out of ink.
- Panic! Because every time the ink runs out you’re right in the middle of printing something important.
- Hope that the office supply store is open and that it is not 2 am.
- Get yourself to the store.
- Locate the ink isle and try to remember what number printer you have sitting on your desk at home, was it the D4260 or the C5540? Really, HP can we come up with some more unique names, such as the Lawn Gnome 5000 or the Purple Octopus? I could definitely remember those.
- Buy the ink cartridge, which end up costing you more than the actual printer did!
- Get home.
- Unwrap the box, and pray that you don’t have to deal with that treacherous molded hard plastic that is impossible to open, without almost cutting your hand off in the process.
- Remove the old cartridge — AND STOP!
This is where 95% of you go wrong!! According to Robert Bell, only 5% of North American’s recycle their used ink cartridges. That means that the other 95% are, you betcha, tossed in the garbage and taken to the landfill. That’s 300 MILLION ink and toner cartridges EACH and EVERY YEAR! Yikes! This also means that 8 cartridges are trashed every second!
And this is where my package differs from the existing ink cartridge packages–
Step 10 - Swap cartridges! New cartridge goes in the printer, like normal. Empty cartridge goes back in the box. The same box you took the new package out of. That box is self-addressed to HP and has pre-paid postage. You don’t even need to get the packing tape, the inside flap of the package has a covered adhesive strip that is simply peeled off when time to re-seal (similar to NetFlix envelopes).
Step 11 – On the back of the package is a Refill Code to be used for ordering your next ink cartridge. The consumer just goes to www.hp.com/refill and enters the code. This will automatically detect which cartridge of ink is needed, no reason to search for that crazy printer number. The user will enter their billing and shipping, information along with the Refill Code. HP will send the user a refilled cartridge to have on hand before the existing one runs out, while, of course, printing that 20 page research paper at 3 am. (The new cartridge will come in the mail and from that point on, Steps 10, 11, & 12 will be the only required steps when replacing ink cartridges)
Step 12 – Drop the package in any mailbox and that little cartridge is on it’s way to not only be recycled but REFILLED. Which is even better. It doesn’t end up in a landfill AND it requires less resources to be used in manufacturing another cartridge.
So, how does that sound to you? Simple, right? Would you use this system at home or in the office?