Fair competition and the right to re-use
Some manufacturers require consumers to send their cartridges back to them, rather than allowing the user to have the cartridge remanufactured. These empties are then sent to landfill or incinerated instead of being remanufactured by us. More waste for nothing!
Also, some printer manufacturers now insert technology which prevent the reuse of cartridges. Almost all new printers use chips to control their cartridges’ interactions with the printer, including data on the level of toner or ink still available. This means that a remanufactured cartridge without such a replacement chip will inform the user that the cartridge is empty, even when it is full! If a replacement chip is used, a display warns the user that the cartridge is non-original, and may void the warranty!
Even more troubling are the cartridges containing “killer” chips, disabling the printer if a remanufactured cartridge is used! And printer manufacturers are adding increasing layers of technological complexity in attempts to stop the creation of compatible aftermarket chips, or preventing them from being re-used.
In 2002, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading analyzed the UK cartridge market. click here for their Report.
Also, in 2006 the EU Commission’s DG COMP, which is the unit responsible for fair competition across Europe, launched an investigation into the market behaviour of the printer manufacturers regarding cartridges. This was done because the Commission have serious reasons to believe that the printer manufacturers are using unlawful practices to prevent our industry from remanufacturing used cartridges so that they can be used again.
We want legislation to make barriers to reuse illegal.
Remanufacturers support the right of OEMs to manufacture new printer and cartridge products, most of which are high quality products meeting a clear need. However, our concern is that, in seeking to maintain their market position, they often act in a way which is not only violating fair competition rules in Europe, but also clearly is detrimental to Europe’s environment.
This reduces the purchaser’s freedom of choice. What if car buyers were forced to buy a particular brand of petrol simply because they liked a particular brand of car? This is effectively the situation with cartridges.
Our industry wants to see a change in the way current European legislation is created, bringing competition policy in line with newer, environmental imperatives.
Environmental legislation should be given equal weight as competition law has. OEM’s currently restrict consumers’ preference for non-OEM cartridges by making their use a breach of warranty. This is in stark contrast to the motor industry, where consumers can choose the brand of petrol that they put in their tanks. ETIRA will also:
* Encourage the EU to endorse re-use/remanufacturing as the preferred purchasing option for the EU and Member States.
* Seek greater government support for remanufacturing as a key part of policies to increase recycling and reduce pollution.