Recycling: The Habit Taking Time to Change

Keypoint investigates why recycling is still so important for consumers



Mark Davis


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Recycling. From placing wastepaper in the correct bin at the office to smelting down scrap metal for reuse, recycling is an accepted practice in most countries worldwide. Whether it’s sorting household waste for the multitude of rubbish collections during the week or taking empty cans or jars to a recycling centre in town, generally speaking, everyone is happy to do their bit to reduce waste destine for landfill or incineration. Businesses, too, abide by strict recycling mandates and encourage their employees to change their habits to reduce waste.


But, what about print supplies? A contentious issue for many years, governments and OEMs are trying to reach agreements on how to best deal with cartridge and other print consumable waste, including a greater focus on remanufacturing and better regulation of the third party market. Despite consumer concerns over cost and the quality of aftermarket supplies, many are now considering the environmental impact of their purchase when making decisions on print supplies. They are aware of OEMs’ supply recycling policies and are willing to change who they purchase from if those policies do not match their expectations.


Current Recycling Habits

Concern about the environmental impact of purchases is present in most consumer markets, and it is becoming more of a consideration for print supplies. In a recent Keypoint Intelligence study, 29% of respondents looked for ways to recycle their used supplies and 31% looked for supplies made with recycled content. Interestingly, 71% of fully remote or hybrid workers who purchased their own supplies thought about the environmental impact when making purchasing choices.



The study also found that consumers are turning towards the aftermarket for their print supplies to save money and still buy environmentally friendly products. However, these are sometimes affected by other issues—such as error messages and compatibility issues—and require more consumer effort to ensure they’re recycled correctly. With most OEMs offering a recycling program for consumables, many are willing to pay slightly more for the convenience of allowing the OEM to recycle the used products.



Recycling paper in the office and at home has now become a staple part of everyday life. Employees at businesses of all sizes are now more concerned with how the paper they deal with daily is being disposed of after it is digitized, moving from a passive to an active stance on how their employer deals with the waste. According to Keypoint’s research, over half of all businesses surveyed in our recent Future of Work study destroy paper when it is no longer required, with it being shredded and recycled. This is particularly important to younger workers—73% of whom consider the environmental impact of using and disposing of a paper document whilst at work.


What Are the OEMs Doing to Make Recycling Easier?

Most print OEMs are trying to make their supplies return and recycle process more convenient for customers. Whether it be supplying the materials to return the cartridges or bottles, or providing collection services as part of an ink/toner service, OEMs are making the process more streamlined and easy to ensure consumers are happy with their environmental efforts. Why is this necessary? Consumers are more interested in how materials are being recycled than they used to be, meaning that OEMs are needing to justify what materials are being recycled for further use and what (if anything) is ending up in landfill.


In a recent interview with Ricoh, Keypoint’s Workplace Group Director Deborah Hawkins discussed the changing landscape of consumer attitudes towards recycling and the role OEMs play in the process. Requests for support with how to recycle supplies effectively come from all types of businesses, consumers, and channel partners who also want to take part in OEM-led initiatives or gain support for their own practices.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Buying print supplies containing recycled content as well as how OEMs recycle the supplies consumers return to them are key issues in consumer’s minds and now have the strength to affect consumer buying power. If OEMs are not aligned with consumer attitudes towards recycling and disposing of waste sustainably or (worse) if OEMs mislead consumers, then consumers will take their spending power elsewhere—which is a big win for the circular economy! The aftermarket presents an enticing alternative for consumers, catering to cost and environmental concerns. However, they currently lack the logistical scope—and business model—of the OEMs to recycle cartridges and bottles on such a large scale. Recycling will always be a key component of how we collectively deal with waste, but it is encouraging to see that consumers are placing it on the same pedestal of cost and quality when it comes to purchasing decisions.


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