When you buy original Multifunction Printers and Printers for your office, you get the reassurance of high uptime, genuine spare parts, and manufacturer’s warranty. And with genuine toner, you get number of prints as advertised, and healthy indoor air quality. Original equipment and consumables are not just good for your office, but are good for the society, economy and environment too.
Most businesses are looking at ways to save money, particularly by opting for second-hand office automation products that are otherwise expensive if bought new. But in the long run you, as well as the planet, end up paying more in every way.
Used electronic goods are known as e-waste and in developed nations there is a huge responsibility and expense involved in disposing of this waste in an environment-friendly manner. Rather than spend this money, users often export these used copying machines to countries like India, with relatively less stringent regulations.
Polluting environment in India
Once a lot is received by the importer, these are repaired by cannibalising parts from other machines. These ‘refurbished’ machines are then sold to the unorganised sector for a profit. The unorganised sector, in turn, extracts materials with residual value, from this e-waste mostly by burning certain components. So, even before the used photocopier has reached its buyer, it has contributed to polluting the environment. Not only this, more often than not, these machines are assembled in poorly ventilated, unhygienic surroundings by unskilled or semi-skilled labour. Often, lack of knowledge amongst these people may result in hazardous material causing a potentially catastrophic incident. Continued use of such machines keeps pushing the workers involved into contact with hazardous wastes, endangering their lives and the environment.
Poor indoor air quality
A copying machine, during its lifetime, requires toners to print on paper. In original factory-fitted machines, toners are strictly guided on to paper, and any loose toner is controlled and trapped in filters. Second-hand machines do not have any such filters or traps. Since they are loosely fitted, clouds of toner dust form and travel through the user’s office, polluting it and causing the occupants to breathe tonerladen air.
Higher maintenance costs
The costs of repairing a pre-owned photocopier can cause a dent in your budget. This is so because a used copier cannot match the reliability of a new one. In addition, if you have bought an old model, finding its parts can be a big hassle, and it eventually ends up costing you more.
Limited or no warranty
Since second-hand machines are more susceptible to frequent break downs, used photocopiers normally do not come with warranties. The ones that do only offer limited, basic warranties.
Due to low reliability, combined with less output than originally advertised, users experience decreased copier efficiency, which translates into lower organisational efficiency. Issues like ink spillage and paper wastage will be inevitable, and ultimately increase the users’ monthly bill.
The second-hand industry employs the cheapest manpower available, which turns out to be child labour. Their job is toner refilling and repairing of second-hand machines that mostly do not conform to RoHS standards. Children are the most vulnerable to these toxic materials. As a result, along with making them sick for life, the second-hand assemblers ensure the evil practice of child labour continues unabated.
Despite there being laws banning the sale of electronic scrap to any unauthorised or unlicensed vendors or ‘kabadiwalas’, there is still large scale dumping of such material. That is because it is expensive to recycle, and it needs specialised processes too. Since the people doing the refurbishing or assembling are small-time dealers, they neither have the necessary infrastructure, nor the economic wherewithal, to properly dispose of waste. As a result, they end up harming the environment.
We all know how important it is to pay taxes that eventually contribute towards the nation’s development. However, the second-hand marketers generally deal in cash, and avoid paying the relevant taxes and duties, thereby depriving the exchequer of revenue.
If the import of second-hand products is allowed to flourish, demand for new machines is bound to fall. As a result, manufacturing would suffer, which in turn, would negatively impact the economy, and also be a setback to recent initiatives like the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme.
What you can do
- Avoid the temptation to buy used equipment. Not only are these machines more prone to mechanical failures, but since manufacturers are phasing them out entirely, support and parts may become difficult to find in the coming months.
- Do not finalise a purchase without warranty. Many vendors will sell a used copier on an ‘as-is’ basis for even steeper discounts, usually with no warranty or one as short as 15 days.
- Insist on buying MFD’s and Printers from authorised sources only. Check for BIS compliance plate on the machine you buy to confirm it is from an authorised source. This might cost you a bit more, but you will rest assured that they adhere to all the applicable environmental norms. A new machine will also have a longer life and will be more efficient than a second-hand machine. And most importantly, users in your office will breathe cleaner air.
- Discourage improper disposal of e-waste/electronic scrap by your organisation and partner/vendor organisations too.
- Ensure that e-waste like used Printers, PCs etc. are given to government-approved recycling agencies only.
- Get your toners from authorised sources only, and also ensure regular servicing of equipment, so as to comply with requisite safety measures and prevent employees from breathing-polluted air at the workplace.
- In the medium-term, second-hand copiers cost more money than they save. Hence, buy from authorised sources only and keep the environment clean and fresh.