Thinking further: what about other "fair" electronics?

Hi folks,

I was recently annoyed about our printer, where

  1. a lot of leftover toner had to be disposed as special waste,
  2. the whole cartridge had to be exchanged including all the functional mechanics inside. According to Canon the old cartridge should be just disposed,
  3. and new Cartridges cost heaps of money.

After now a few years of a successful fairphone project: Did anyone think of taking that idea to another level? To areas like computers, printers, household machines or even cars. I’ve got the impression that most of these goods are not build to last which fits our consumer society but is not sustainable in any way. And if I read the story of fairphone correctly there are people thinking of the background and impact of what they are buying. So now my question:

Are there any plans about opening a company that produces other fair devices?

I haven’t found any discussion like this before but please show me if I overlooked one.


Just for reference we had discussions about some individual fair devices, like:

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Some laser printer vendors have set up their own recycling programmes, so they at least take back used drum units and toner cartridges by mail to recycle them (e.g. Brother makes that very comfortable for the customer, Samsung has it too, but last time I checked the process was less comfortable).

If we’re talking home, home office or small business scale of printing, then there would be the option to instead use a printer with refillable ink tanks (e.g. Epson EcoTank, Brother Refill Tank System).


Some time ago I was thinking about boulding my own printer and make the design free/libre available now I have an eco tank which is not bad. The problem is it is still consumer electronic and I am afraid one day it will just stop printing without a reason like my last one did. But i am still thinking, that it cant be that hard do do all the paper and printhead moving. Where some micromechanic is needed is only the printingnozzle. So if one manage to get a soutable one and find out how to drive it the harder work is done.

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A somewhat lengthy addition to that: I currently had to look for 4-in-1 multifunction printer options for my workplace, so here’s some reference, perhaps somebody finds it useful …

For quite some years now we used Brother 4-in-1 laser MFCs at work. I could now enter into a lengthy sermon of praise about them but instead in short: Picking something from the current Brother laser lineup would have been the easiest of all the reasonable choices.

However: Printing our page output using ink in the meantime should be cheaper than using toner, and having laser printers near you is not ideal/recommended emission-wise. So ink it should be, using refillable tanks would be best, and while we’re at it, handling A3 would be nice, we really missed that until now.
A pure feature reference of what we want at work (disregarding that it uses cartridges) would be the Brother MFC-J6935DW, or perhaps as a bare minimum the smaller (still capable of printing A3) MFC-J5930DW. Yes, we really need advanced features.

Options with the EU in mind:

Brother Refill Tank System
I found exactly 1 Brother 4-in-1 device: MFC-T800W.
While seemingly being the top of the Tsomething line with refillable ink, it has rather low-end specs and I only found official references to it in Asia and the Middle East. So … no.
You can find EU dealers or importers selling you models of this line, so if low-end is sufficient, and if you don’t need 4-in-1, here are also DCP-T300, DCP-T500W and DCP-T700W.

Canon refillable ink tanks
I found exactly 1 Canon 4-in-1 device: Pixma G4500.
While seemingly being the top of the quite new Gsomething line with refillable ink, it has rather low-end specs. Low-end specs don’t cut it for our purposes, so I didn’t investigate if this thing is any good.
If low-end is sufficient and you don’t need 4-in-1, here are also Pixma G1500, Pixma G2500 and Pixma G3500.

Epson EcoTank
Now it gets more interesting. Epson is selling EcoTank printers for years now, while Brother and Canon seem to still just probe the markets.

Readily available in the EU is the Epson EcoTank ET line (here’s their whole EU inkjet lineup including ET), with the top model being the EcoTank ET-4550. Indeed that looks more promising for regular small business use, but it doesn’t do anything with A3, and Epson is cheating a bit with this, because they indeed sell an A3+ model of this line in the US, and they have recently started selling that in the EU, too, but only in Eastern Europe as the EcoTank L1455 (See? How is this on Epson’s EU site, but not in the EU inkjet overview? :slight_smile: ). At least in Germany there are dealers who import that thing and sell it.

Now we’re finally talking A3. While I found enough complaining about the build quality of the EcoTank ETs to make me cautious, I found little of the sort about this “secret” top of the line model.
There are many complaints about the print quality and paper handling of the whole line including this model though, and Epson seems to generate quite some customer grief with their drivers and utilities.

In the end, while coming close, I sadly can’t decide in favour of the EcoTank L1455, because the Epson support situation outside of the target market is unclear probably leaving me with two years dealer warranty; because customer reports about software quality, print quality and paper handling trouble raise quite some doubts; and because the cartridge-using Brother high-end devices still totally boss a direct feature comparison.
Come on, Brother, you can build these things with refillable tanks, I know it :wink: !
At least Brother offers XXL cartridges and does recycle ink cartridges, too.

So the serious business side of refillable ink tanks in my point of view looks a bit bleak at the moment, but for private use I personally would really have a closer look at some of the low-end options. But … the most ecological printer is the one I already use :wink:


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