Ninestar ban increases pressure on remanufacturers and puts European companies’ corporate sustainability commitments in the spotlight

September 12, 2023

  • The recent Ninestar forced labour scandal that has seen the printer maker and its subsidiaries banned from importing into the US is putting pressure on the EU’s remanufacturing sector;
  • It also puts European-based companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments to the test, as ETIRA stresses continuing to trade with Ninestar “very obviously violates” ethical and sustainability pledges.

The ink and toner cartridge remanufacturing and reuse sector in Europe is under increased pressure to compete with cheaper alternatives from Asia that are flooding the market following the recent US-ban on printer maker Ninestar and its products.

In June, the country banned all imports from Chinese company Ninestar and its subsidiaries, including Pantum Electronics, Apex Microelectronics and G&G Digital Technology, under the country’s Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act.

ETIRA issued a call on the back of the ban for European companies and public bodies to stop purchasing from the involved organisations. Now, its members are reporting the impact of the Ninestar scandal on their ability to operate. 

Vincent van Dijk of ETIRA, said: “We’re already hearing reports that the US-ban on Ninestar is having an impact on trading conditions for our members here in Europe and putting them under significant pressure, as Asia-based manufacturers look to secure existing routes to market and in turn, offer far cheaper, single-use cartridges that are very hard for remanufacturers to compete with. 

“We are already up against the greenwashing tactics of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and the big players in the market. This additional development could put even more pressure on remanufacturers. 

“However – it also puts pressure on European-based companies’ CSR policies and sustainability commitments. 

“Trading with a company that has been found to be engaging in forced labour very obviously violates any such policy or commitment, and is something we and our members very strongly condone.”

According to ETIRA, as many as 70 percent of ink and toner cartridges are thrown away in Europe after first use. Remanufacturing cartridges for reuse can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 60 percent. 

For further information about ETIRA, visit


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ETIRA celebrates two decades in business 

March 3, 2023

This year marks the 20th anniversary of ETIRA, signalling a major milestone in the association’s journey to create a greener future for the ink toner cartridge industry.

Founded on 11 February 2003 in Barcelona, ETIRA’s creation marked the arrival of the cartridge remanufacturing industry’s first official European trade association.

Its launch signalled the sector’s commitment to raising the profile of reuse and remanufacturing, carrying out important political lobbying work within the EU and providing a platform for organisations within the industry to connect and communicate with one another.

And today, ETIRA’s membership includes some of Europe’s biggest players in the sector, with more than 40 companies joining the association from all over the UK and the continent and together, continuing to influence and shape the European toner and inkjet remanufacturing industry, as well as the wider circular economy debate and the green agenda.

Reflecting on the significant milestone, Vincent van Dijk, secretary general of ETIRA, said: “ETIRA exists to lead the fight to represent our members’ interest and to stand for cartridges as a flagship example of circularity, and key to a greener printing industry.

“The association’s launch created a face for Europe’s remanufacturing industry and also, gave the sector a voice to assert itself at the table of politicians and decision makers across the EU.”

Shaping policy

The world has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, with industry having to navigate a whole host of unprecedented challenges – from economic uncertainty to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

However, despite these hurdles, ETIRA’s focus on driving sustainability within the printing industry has held strong, continuing with its work to lobby the EU and assert remanufactured cartridges as the best choice.

Vincent van Dijk explains; “We are constantly lobbying and reaching out to EU policy makers to raise awareness of the benefits of cartridge reuse and, as an association, we’ve achieved many successes in this area.

“We successfully lobbied for favourable wording in the EU ecodesign criteria for imaging equipment, the EU Ecolabel for imaging equipment, the EU criteria for green public procurement (GPP), the US public procurement scheme EPEAT, the Nordic Ecolabel (formerly “Nordic Swan”), the EU February 2018 study on cartridge reuse, and the 2020 reform of the Voluntary Agreement Imaging Equipment. And now, as requested by us for a long time, the EU has finally decided to regulate the industry and make reuse the norm.

“But, we’re not ones to rest on our laurels. There is still much work to be done and we continue in our efforts, along with our members, to drive change across the industry, rising against the pressure of OEMs and pushing for regulatory tools to be put in place – not voluntary.”

Looking ahead

Since its creation, ETIRA has risen to the challenge of difficult trading conditions and dwindling sales volumes within the remanufacturing industry, to promote the vital benefits of reuse and drive change within policy.

With as much as 70 per cent of cartridges thrown away in Europe after first use, the association’s purpose is more vital than ever, as Vincent van Dijk summarises: “Remanufacturing cartridges for re-use can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 45 to 60  per cent.

“As our industry takes steps to reduce its environmental impact, every cartridge that is remanufactured is one fewer going directly to landfill.

“Our 20-year milestone is a point of reflection for us and our members. It’s a chance to review the vital work we’ve done to date but, more importantly, it’s an opportunity for us to promote the important job that’s still to be done to secure a greener future for the inkjet and toner industry across Europe.”

To view the full digital edition of the March issue of The Recycler please click here

Reproduction of The Recycler feature is with permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.


Canon patent on remanufacturing revoked following opposition by ETIRA

July 30, 2021

A remanufacturing patent, granted to Canon in 2014, has been revoked after a lengthy opposition campaign by the European Toner and Inkjet Remanufacturers Association (ETIRA).



ETIRA celebrates lobbying win as Spanish rule change closes loophole on electrical equipment imports

January 26, 2021

The European Ink Toner and Remanufacturers Association (ETIRA) is celebrating a change to Spanish rules which mean all importers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to the country must now prove their waste management credentials.

Following extensive lobbying and proposals from ETIRA, along with the Spanish office of the European Recycling Platform, a raft of rule changes around the management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and batteries have received royal ascent.

The royal decree modifies the current WEEE regulations, meaning all importers of EEE from third countries will be required to enter their Integrated Industrial Registry number, (WEEE registration number) when clearing imports of EEE into Spain.

The measures are introduced so that, prior to the importation of electrical and electronic equipment, Spanish Authorities can supervise and verify the correct compliance with the registration obligations in the Integrated Industrial Registry (WEEE registration) by the producers, importers or authorised representatives.

The results of the controls are carried out prior to importation and will then be transferred to the competent authorities for market surveillance.

This change closes a loophole where printer consumables could be imported, but the importer was not required to disclose the WEEE registration details. Unregistered importers would then avoid the cost of providing a WEEE collection programme and paying the appropriate costs of WEEE compliance.

Javier Martinez, President of ETIRA, the European Toner and Inkjet Remanufacturers Association said: “This is excellent news for Spanish remanufacturers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMS) who have historically faced the challenge of competing with low cost imports achieved by those not contributing to the costs of WEEE, but at the same time have had to contribute to the correct processing of WEEE.

“The rule change was formulated at a meeting with ETIRA, the European Recycling Platform, Spain’s Environment ministry and Customs authorities.” Martinez added.

A third country is a country that is not one of the 27 members of the European Union and the 3 countries of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway).

For further information about ETIRA and its work, visit


COVID-19: Slowdown affecting remanufacturing

July 3, 2020

Since the start of the pandemic, many remanufacturers across Europe have experienced falls in sales. For some the damage was very severe, for some it was relatively limited. Some even experienced an increase in parts of their business: thanks to the large number of employees now forced to work from home, sales of certain products (inkjets) saw double-digit growth. Part of that growth may well prove to be permanent. Setbacks were the firmware updates that some OEM’s continue to implement. 

Also at ETIRA, the pandemic caused a slowdown in activities, as you will have noticed the low frequency of this Newsletter. But that was not only due to the pandemic: as part of our new PR and media strategy, ETIRA is making more use of other channels than just this Newsletter for its outreach. 

Behind the scenes, the ETIRA Board of Directors remained very active. The main topic is the 2020 EU’s Action Plan on the Circular Economy. Here the multi-annual ETIRA lobby efforts again paid off 100%: the programme announces legislation to promote circularity for IT products, including printers and cartridges unless an ambitious Voluntary Agreement Imaging Equipment is agreed in the next few months. The Board also discusses leaving the OEM logos on remans, a new ETIRA logo’ distinguishing remanufactured cartridges from non-OEM newbuilds, PR work, etc. 


ETIRA responds to Actionable Intelligence White Paper

November 20, 2019

ETIRA responds to the recently published white paper that charts how a premium new build Single Use Cartridge is poised to change the printer supplies market.

Recently US research firm Actionable Intelligence published a free white paper “Premium Compatibles Poised to Fundamentally Change Third-Party Printer Supplies Market” this white paper charts the evolution of the premium compatible cartridge and its potential impact on the market.

ETIRA was disappointed by the biased content of the Actionable Intelligence white paper, assuming that the viewpoint taken may have been influenced by the party or parties commissioning this work.

The focus of the report, praising the advantages of non-infringing SUC (single-use-cartridges), is based on price and IP or regulatory compliance, for which there is a legal requirement and so this is not considered to be a unique selling point. Other aspects such as quality, emissions, health, safety and economic sustainability are seemingly not considered relevant enough to be highlighted in this validation.

In cartridge tests which ETIRA has conducted in the past, we have found violations of chemical legislation and European law apparently across the board of SUC manufacturers, also including leading brands.

We assume that for advanced players it will be possible to manufacture chemically safe, legislation and IP compliant products as stated in the White paper.

But this will come at a cost. Not only at a monetary cost for the buyer but also at a cost for society and the environment.

That SUC manufacturers pay these costs for compliance has not always been the case in the past and has yet to be proven.

That our society would be paying the price for an increased share of SUC and a further reduction of locally remanufactured product is a fact.  It is not just that plastic waste ends up in landfill, but also the loss of local jobs and the unsustainability of the supply chain that are clear and negative factors of SUCs.

According to the European Parliament remanufacturing represents the “Actual mandate of society and the most important innovation need towards the future.”

We are convinced that the authorities and end-users in the EU and elsewhere will continue to increasingly demand environmentally sustainable, society friendly, high-quality and low-priced printing consumables which are remanufactured locally.

For further facts and assessment, we recommend reading a compelling and highly informative document produced under the EU commission mandate which supports our standpoint:

The cartridge remanufacturing study by Oakdene Hollins which you can download here.”


ETIRA flyer supporting remanufactured cartridges 

March 26, 2019

ETIRA has a flyer that tells the reader to buy their remans only from ETIRA members. As an easy- hand out,  the flyer lists the benefits of remanufactured cartridges compared to OEM and compatibles. The flyer can be downloaded by clicking here !

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