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Ink/Toner Cartridge Recycling/Selling

Discussion in 'Ideas, Needs, Concept Feedback' started by SWSSMSS, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. SWSSMSS
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    SWSSMSS Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I'm looking to start something up by the new years and I have a few different ideas so far but after reading the unsexy business idea & terrible service business threads, I was thinking about recycling. Then I thought about ink/toner cartridge recycling: I have a relative who's a state worker and he told me that they just throw the ink/toner cartridges in the dumpster. So I looked it up and there are some websites that buy empty ink/toner cartridges, so I saw an opportunity to do a little good for the planet while making some money.

    I was thinking that on the back end, I could reach out to everyone I know who works a 9-5 (slowlane jobs) and see if their company recycles and if not, set up an ink recycling bin in the office, then I set up an online shop for the front end to sell refilled ink to consumers.

    I'm currently doing some research on
    • If companies have some type of contract in place for buying their ink or if they just go out and buy it like normal people
    • would that contract exclude someone like me from recycling their ink.
    • Whether I should pay the companies to recycle their ink or just get them to do it for the good of the environment
    • If I do pay if I should give a percentage or discount on ink purchased from me
    • If it's more profitable to sell to consumers or to ink remanufactures
    If anyone has advice, feedback, or experience with anything related to this your input would be greatly appreciated. Also don't steal this idea yet lol.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  2. SWSSMSS
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    SWSSMSS Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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  3. minivanman
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    minivanman Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    If that doesn't pan out for you how about recycling things found at yard sales and selling them locally? No need for the drama of ebay or Amazon, just sell on your local apps and make an instant profit while still recycling. Lots of times when people don't sell things at their yard sale they just throw the remainder away. Lots of money in this. Keep us updated.
     
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  4. SWSSMSS
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    SWSSMSS Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Thanks for the reply. I'll be doing some research over the next few weeks to see if this is viable, but if not, your idea is something I'll look into
     
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  5. RazorCut
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    RazorCut Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    An ink refill business? From a purely business point of view I wouldn't touch it. There is a lot of competition in the ink market. Just go on to Amazon and see what's available (I get over 50,000 results on .co.uk).

    That's a LOT of competition with no way to add extra value (you can't improve the cartridge, you can't improve the service (most places are offering next day). If you want to compete on price you are screwed before you even start.

    The cartridges are a consumable so meant to be used and thrown away. This means there is not a huge value to them so if you act as a reseller you are not going to get a lot for them. The business is very low tech (drill a hole, fill with ink or toner, seal hole, maybe flash or replace the chip), so the barrier to entry is low which creates a lot of competition which equals low prices and low profits.

    If you have contacts with several high use businesses that go through several toner cartridges a week what do you think they will be worth? Have you processed the numbers?

    I'm just spitballing here but....

    I would be more interested in recycling their IT equipment (there is a lot of money extracting precious metals from circuit boards). In fact one of my neighbours has a company doing just that.

    The other area that might be of interest is in secure data destruction. Both digital (as an extra to recycling IT equipment) and physical as in secure paper shredding services. A less saturated market but probably one that would be more difficult to elbow your way into. However one you could add value to with superior service.

    I just think you should be setting your sights higher.

    Of course you could use this as an entrance way to move further up the food chain. This state worker? How big a site do they work on? You could make some money picking up used cartridges and selling them on but use the opportunity mainly to get your foot in the door. Then you could find out what pain points they have and work your way in further. I don't know how it works where you live but here we have approved supplier lists, contract bidding lists etc. etc.. So don't expect an open pathway.

    If you do offer to take away their old cartridges be prepared to have to provide documentation regarding their disposal/reuse etc..
     
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  6. SWSSMSS
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    SWSSMSS Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Ok, so I wanted to go out and do some surveys on local businesses ("Would you be interested in helping save the environment" haha) but I don't have a car currently and it's raining like crazy right now. This is my first time doing market research and I couldn't think of any other way than cold calling on the phone or in person.

    Anyways, I've been doing research and the OEM toner cartridges 4-pack go for ~$350 and the cheapest refill kit I found online was $45, but the cheapest compatible 4 pack was also ~$45 but most were ~$69 so margins are looking thin but, I could get the cartridges for free by collecting them from local businesses (while other manufacturers would be buying from people like me) and hopefully find some bulk refill powder and chips through somewhere eventually.

    Another option would be to sell the empty cartridges to ink remanufacturers either directly or through one of the websites listed above for $2-$3 each.

    Thanks @RazorCut for the suggestion. I was actually thinking that this business would sell better as part of a nonprofit that takes ink donations from everyone and that would allow me to push a little more to get my foot in the door of some local businesses and figure out their real pain points to solve as my forprofit business.

    I figured the state would have some type of contract I just haven't been able to find anything on it and I can't figure out why they would be just throwing away their ink cartridges. I'm gonna see if my relative could put me in contact with IT or something.
     

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