Consumers in North America throw away more than 350 million empty toner and ink cartridges each year, a stat that the creators behind a new kiosk concept are hoping to decrease.
Insta Ink, which sells more than 800 types of new and recycled ink and toner cartridges, has partnered with AVT to manufacture kiosks to dispense products inside retail locations.
Currently, the company has eight kiosks inside grocery stores throughout Utah, each selling cartridges for more than 18 different brands of printers. Some of the most popular brand names including HP, Lexmark, Canon, Brother, Epson, Dell, Sharp, Samsung, Oki and Xerox.
The Utah grocery stores are each hosting the kiosks under a revenue-sharing program with Insta Ink, but company founder Todd Lund said he's also looking into renting and purchasing operations.
How it works
The customer enters either the brand, cartridge number or printer model on the kiosk's interactive screen, and the system automatically finds the cartridge.
"Customers no longer have to search the aisles of office supply stores or wait for an employee to offer help," said Bryan Ross of AVT, a developer of self-service retailing systems, custom and automated retail stores.
Delivery comes in one of two ways: The kiosk stocks 74 of the most popular Inkjet cartridges, so when a user swipes his debit or credit card to purchase one, the machine vends the cartridge.
Customers buying larger LaserJet and toner cartridges or inkjets that are not stocked in the kiosk, however, place their orders at the machine and receive them at their homes or offices within two or three business days.
Using the kiosk to buy recycled products can save consumers up to 50 percent, Lund said, and despite the fact that they are remanufactured, all the kiosk's printer cartridges meet or exceed OEM standards for page yield and ink volumes.
"In other words, all cartridges hold as much ink or toner as the originals, and in some cases they hold even more," Lund said.
Both consumers and retailers will benefit from the kiosks, Lund said.
"Retailers such as grocery stores like having the machines because it provides a great service for their customers," he said. "The customer can purchase their ink cartridge quickly and conveniently. To the end user it saves time and they don't have to make a special trip to the ink store."
Retailers like it because it's another way to drive traffic, which may lead to increased sales.
One of the key benefits, Lund said, is how the kiosks promote going green. Not only can consumers buy recycled products from the kiosks, they can also use them to recycle their empty Inkjet cartridges.
Inkjet and toner cartridges can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, so Lund is happy that his kiosks can help reduce some of the waste.
"We currently do not have space to take empty laser/toner cartridges but you may still purchase a remanufactured laser cartridge at the kiosk which helps every one go green, save and keep costs down," Lund said.
Read more about vending kiosks.
Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.