News Release
September 24, 1998

Rick Best (916) 443-5422 Resa Dimino (718) 885-9093


Manufacturer Condemned For Wasteful Printer Cartridges

(LAS VEGAS, Nevada, USA)   The GrassRoots Recycling Network announced today that it is awarding the first in a series of WasteMaker Awards to Lexmark International, Inc. of Lexington KY.  The award is for Lexmark's wasteful single-use printer cartridge.  The group uses WasteMaker Awards to single out manufacturers of especially wasteful products and packaging.

"Lexmark is discouraging recycling by cutting out thousands of small businesses that remanufacture printer cartridges," said Rick Best, chair of the Athens GA-based GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) and policy director for Sacramento CA-based Californians Against Waste.

"The Lexmark Prebate program is a raw deal for the environment, for consumers, and for a free and competitive market," Best said.  "Every printer cartridge remanufactured saves about 2.5 pounds of plastic from being wasted and conserves about three quarts of oil.  Each year the industry reclaims enough cartridges to conserve nearly twice the amount of oil as was spilled into Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez."

The company's Prebate marketing program for its line of Optra S printer cartridges gives customers a discount if they agree to either mail their cartridges back to Lexmark or throw them away.  In other words, once they accept the discount, customers are prohibited from recycling with cartridge remanufacturers.

In theory, customers can purchase a special, rechargable Optra S cartridge.  In practice, however, customers are discouraged from purchasing the rechargable Optra S cartridge by a higher price and by lack of universal availability.

Lexmark Optra S printers command 8 percent of the private printer market, but 53 percent of the workstation printer market in government and business, according to Tricia Judge, editor of Recharger Magazine.

When the Prebate program was introduced in May 1997, Lexmark sent certified letters to every cartridge remanufacturer in the US, making clear its intention to sue any company or individual caught remanufacturing a Prebate Optra S cartridge.  The GrassRoots Recycling Network has joined Ralph Nader's Government Purchasing Project in asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate Lexmark for possible violations of antitrust laws.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network is calling on corporate and public sector purchasing officials and the general public to stop buying Optra S products until Lexmark terminates its Prebate program, and to work for legislation and policies that restrict state or local governments from doing business with companies that require "single-use" terms.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network is a coalition of recycling and community-based activists who work through advocacy, grassroots organizing and public education to promote three messages:  Zero Waste, Create Jobs from Discards, and End Corporate Welfare for Wasting.  GRRN was founded two years ago by members of the Sierra Club Waste Committee, Washington DC-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and the California Resource Recovery Association.


CLICK TO SEE related information on the Lexmark Prebate program on this site:

Fact Sheet       Action Alert      

NOTE:  A bill introduced in the New York legislature by Assemblyman Morelle, Bill No. 10868, would prioritize the purchasing of remanufactured goods in the state procurement process.CLICK HERE  to review the bill and its current status via gopher.

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