Company keeps cartridges from gathering moss

TRAVERSE CITY – If you could save money and help save the environment at the same time, would you? Most would answer "yes." After all, it sounds like a win-win situation.

However, when it comes to printer cartridges, many of us are ignoring an opportunity to reduce not only our expenses, but our waste as well.

Seventy percent of used printer cartridges throughout the world are currently thrown away, resulting in the dumping of almost 350 million cartridges annually in North America.

In one year, if the world's discarded cartridges were stacked end-to-end, they would circle the earth over three times. When you consider a volume of this magnitude coupled with the fact that a discarded laser cartridge can take up to 450 years to decompose, it's easy to see the ecological dilemma.

There is an alternative, however.

According to Tim Getchel, owner of Cartridge World in Traverse City, over 90 percent of all printer cartridges can be professionally refilled, usually as many as four or five times for inkjet cartridges and nine or ten times for laser cartridges.

Getchel, his partner Terry Thompson, and the rest of the Cartridge World team refill inkjet cartridges with brand specific ink at a savings of 50 percent over buying new. They also remanufacture laser cartridges at a savings of about 40 percent by disassembling them, cleaning them, and installing all new parts prior to returning them to the customer.

"There are two things that really appeal to human nature, depending on the kind of person you are, saving money or saving the environment, and we provide both," said Getchel. "You can save money, a significant amount of money, and you can also help save the environment by recycling printer cartridges."

The first Cartridge World was opened in Australia in 1988. Franchising began in 1997 and stores quickly spread across the United Kingdom. The first U.S. Cartridge World opened in Florida in August of 2003, and the Traverse City store was the 259th to open here. Currently, there are over 900 locations worldwide and an average of one new Cartridge World franchise opens per day.

Getchel decided to open his franchise after becoming disillusioned with his work selling pre-printed business forms.

"I had a lot of customers who were opting to buy software and begin printing their forms in-house. It's just the way technology is moving," he said.

"However, my customers would tell me how much they were spending on cartridges and how often they were buying them. I realized they were spending as much money on paper and toner as they had been on pre-printed forms. They weren't saving any money, they were just changing where they spent it. I realized that by saving money on cartridges, they could truly begin to save money overall. Cartridge World seemed to be a natural fit."

So far, Getchel's business has been well received and he credits its success to his staff's commitment to exceptional customer service. They offer a pick up and delivery service for their business clients in addition to offering a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

"There's really no risk in trying us. Our product is 100 percent guaranteed. If you're not happy, we'll either repair it, replace it, or offer a refund."

To date, they've refilled over 1,500 cartridges, including all those belonging to Traverse City State Back, TV 29 & 8, and Williams Chevrolet.

"I think there's such potential here," said Getchel. "Really, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't want to reuse their cartridges. Not only are the savings great, but we need to do what we can to reuse our resources.

"To me, it's just a travesty that all of these cartridges are going into landfills because they can be refilled," he added. "By refilling a cartridge as many times as possible, you're potentially keeping five out of the landfill. If everyone started now, imagine how it would add up over time."

Cartridge World is located at 3311 W. South Airport Road across from the Grand Traverse Mall and near Blockbuster Video.

If you would like more information, call (231) 932.0620. BN