Promoting Waste This article was posted on Wednesday, 6th July 2011

If you look closely at the photo below, beneath the Lego is a huge hunk of office equipment, which is my old trusty laser printer. It's a Brother HL-2030 and I probably bought it about six years ago.

Laser Printer + Lego

I use it mostly for printing stuff that never goes beyond my office, so when the drum (number one consumable) started acting up a few years ago, it didn't matter to me that the prints were going a bit 'spotty' and 'dirty'. 

A lot of toner misplaced

The toner (consumable number two) was still good so at least the prints were somewhat legible (again, as long as I can read it, it was good enough for me).

So now, the day has arrived when not only is the drum completely bunched, but the toner is now starting to act up, the last dying raspy breath of an office equipment consumable. When the toner light stays on, I have to jiggle the toner cartridge to reset the printer to beat some more prints out of it.

Paperless office

I have been in a lot of offices and I think the paperless office is a complete fantasy. I always need a printer located nearby, whether it's to print the list of twenty changes emailed to me by a client or to print out invoices to send to clients or even to print out invoices sent to me, for my upcoming tax return, I really need a printer.

I started looking around for both a drum and toner and it turns out that even though I only spent about eighty euros buying the printer in the first place (including drum and toner), to buy a replacement toner will cost the same again and a replacement drum will cost the same again!

So to revive my printer, I have to spend twice the amount I bought the printer for. The real joke? I can buy the updated version of the same printer, complete with toner and drum, for the same price as I originally bought the printer .

I completely understand the whole concept of the manufacturer making profit off consumables rather than the machine, it helps lower the initial cost of investment for the consumer, which suits me fine. What I don't understand is how a company can look at it's product range and consumables range and not see the obvious issue with one, of two, consumables costing the same as a new machine with consumables included.

A brief digression

What should also be noted is their weak excuse for this 'interesting' pricing structure. Usually a new printer comes with a toner and drum included. But they are usually a lower yield than the ones bought afresh, ie the included toner yields 2000 prints, whilst the bought toner yields 2500 prints. The reality is that it has taken me, like any other normal consumer, years, to go through 2000 prints. This will still not motivate me to go purchase a new set of consumables for this printer.

What next?

Unfortunately I need a printer, and soon. At the very least, I'd go purchase the same printer again and bring my old printer to the recycling centre. Perhaps some overly-eager person will pluck it from oblivion and try resurrect it- "it's a free printer (FREE!), all it needs is a new toner cartridge..."

Yes, enjoy that lemon.

I'm definitely swaying more towards this HP laser printer, simply because it's wireless. The toner cartridge is reasonable priced and I don't think I need to buy a separate drum unit.

I'm hopeful that the printer will last longer than the toner, so it's actually more economical to simply buy a new toner cartridge, but that definitely remains to be seen. 

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