©Getty Images

A sustainable future for ink cartridges

Posted on 20 March 2018.

By automatically replacing used ink cartridges and recycling them in a closed circuit, HP develops printing "as a service" and evolves its business model.

HP wants to reinvent "the way products are designed, manufactured, used and recycled" by reorienting its business model towards a more circular approach.

Launched in 2014 in North America (and the following year in Europe) by the printer manufacturer HP, Instant Ink is an ink cartridge replacement and recycling service for private individuals and small businesses.

When the ink level is low, the printer - connected to the Internet - informs HP, which automatically ships new cartridges to the customer. The ink cartridge is then delivered directly to the subscriber's home or office, along with postage-paid envelopes in which the used cartridges can be returned.

The cartridges are supported by HP Planet Partners, the recycling program uses a dense network of partners in more than 70 countries around the world. For example, the recovered plastic is reused to make new cartridges.

More than one million subscribers

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation , a year after its launch the service already had nearly 1 million subscribers. "The key value of this service using the Internet of Things is that it enables the company to build a stronger customer relationship through a reliable and convenient service," says the Foundation.

Because behind the promise of an ink delivery before you run out and only when you need it, HP saves its customers time, money (up to 50% reduction in ink costs) and gives them a better experience... Not to mention the satisfaction of contributing to reducing waste!

To make this new model possible, HP needed to both improve the design and performance of its ink cartridges, and reduce packaging, ultimately eliminating 57% of the waste associated with printing documents.

Towards products designed to last and be recycled

In addition, the company relies on data collected through this service to feed its ecodesign thinking.

In its latest Sustainable Development Report, the company says it is reinventing "the way products are designed, manufactured, used and recycled", reorienting its business model towards a more circular approach. For example, it recovered 119,900 tonnes of equipment and consumables for recycling in 2016.