The unnessisary excess of multipe ink cartridges


Multiple ink cartriges are such a waste!
Replacement ink cartridge mess from this evening

Ever since I was a tiny little person I've always found photos of environmental destruction and human excess to be disturbing. This evening I had a quick first hand experience with both.

The Canon Pixma Pro9000 is a remarkable printer; the photos my father takes with his Nikon D90 and the ones I take with my Nikon D60 come out looking absolutely stunning. To my untrained eye the quality matches that you would get at a professional photo developing shop. It has borderless printing options, it can print up to A3 in size, it's surprisingly quick even at high resolution settings and the drivers are a breath of fresh air, even if the driver CD also attempts to intstal a lot of other unnecessary cruft unless you tell it not to.

One of the features this Pro9000 shares with other higher end photo printers is it's individual tanks for each colour, in this case there are nine. The logic behind this is that if one colour is exhausted, you don't have to resort to throwing away a whole cartridge which may have plenty of other coloured inks still available. I called B.S. on this the instant I saw it; if a printer company really cared about saving us money they wouldn't price the ink at levels which beat precious metals in weight, and they would let us… shock horror… refill the cartridges! What is the point of throwing away a perfectly usable storage tank like a cartridge?

But this isn't the worst of it. As you can see in the image above, this evening I replaced three of the cartridges out of the nine: and look at the amount of waste! To get to the cartridge you need to:

  1. Open an oversized cardboard box that could easily be half the size
  2. Open a thick, non-recyclable plastic bag that also could easily be half the size
  3. Open another shrink-wrapped piece of plastic
  4. Turn and pop off another thick plastic tab with a huge handle to expose the tiny ink outlet

Why does Canon need to do this? I am always impressed with the quality and build of Canon products, but this amount of protection seems (at least to me) to be really wasteful and superfluous.

What would make sense would be a system to refill the cartridges with licenced Canon ink. I don't care if they charged as much for a refill as they currently do for a regular cartridge (let's be realistic, as if printer companies are going to give up that golden goose), the point is we're trying to reduce waste.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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