Not All Toner is Created Equal

August 14, 2019 | Lauren Jenkins at Guy Brown

Topics: Digital Office, Longtail Spend, Printer Cartridges, Small Business, Sustainable office, recycle

Surprisingly, costs associated with printing can add up to 40% of your annual office products spend. Not surprisingly, toner cartridges can account for the majority of these costs. There are so many alternatives for toner cartridges, so it may be hard to navigate through all of the options. Toner cartridges are plastic vessels containing toner powder, a fine mixture of plastic particles and carbon, or other coloring agents that create the image on paper. When something goes wrong with your printer, the toner cartridge is likely the first point of issue. This can result in costly troubleshooting and replacement. Typically, you are able to acquire a printer for a reasonable cost, but replacing the toner is when things can begin to add up. This is why it's important to know what quality to expect with each type of cartridge on the market.


1. OEM Cartridges

Original Equipment Manufacturer, or "OEM" cartridges are manufactured by printer manufacturers. For example,  These cartridges are name brand, and usually come at a higher price, largely due to research and development costs. These cartridges are usually manufactured using a combination of both new and recycled parts in overseas factories.


Many original equipment manufacturers claim that using any other brand of toner besides that which comes with the machine will void the warranty, but that is not the case, and is an illegal practice.


2. Compatible Cartridges

Compatible, or 'generic', cartridges are those manufactured by a third-party and sold under different brand names. These third party manufacturers are able to take advantage of expired patents, and have no affiliation with the original equipment manufacturers. These cartridges are often made in harsh working conditions with little regulations, resulting in lower prices. Many compatible toners are very close duplicates of the original toner model, but can be questionable when it comes to defect rate and efficacy.


 3. Remanufactured Cartridges

Remanufactured toners are recycled, taken apart, cleaned, inspected for defects, and remanufactured to their original condition. For example, all of our remanufactured printer supplies come with a two-year warranty and have been third-party tested through Buyers Laboratory (BLI)*. Results from the testing showed that our remanufactured cartridges stand up to the quality and reliability of brand-new cartridges.


Finally, there are refilled toner cartridges, which are self-explanatory. These are cartridges that are not taken apart, but simply refilled with new toner powder and resold.



It is important to remember that not all toner is created equal. It's time to stop overspending on printer supplies, especially when you are unsure of their country of origin or quality standards. If you are interested in exploring cost-savings opportunities, remanufactured toner through Guy Brown has been shown to save anywhere from 22-54% in cost, while receiving the same great quality performance that new products offer.


Also, consider your toner cartridge's life cycle, because it is better to extend the life cycle of a cartridge rather than making a new one. Through a series of mindful choices, we can collectively change our habits and change the planet.



Lauren Jenkins at Guy Brown

Author: Lauren Jenkins at Guy Brown

Lauren is a Guy Brown associate and helps with sales, marketing and PR. Always ready to share her experience (particularly in writing), Lauren works with Guy Brown clients helping them find better ways to manage long-tail spend and uncover cost saving opportunities.