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Cheap multifunction devices are a disservice to the environment

Technology was supposed to bring forth a paperless environment. Instead, the widespread availability of cheap printers is threatening to generate a mountain of "disposable printers" as people find out it is cheaper to buy printers rather than the replacement cartridges.

The advent of the first GBP 9.99 printer at E-tailer Oyyy (opens in new tab) is a case in point. The Olivetti ANY_WAY multifunction printer costs half the price of one replacement cartridge.

The printer comes with two cartridges - one colour and one black - and you need not be a rocket scientist to calculate that it would be cheaper to buy a printer and take out the two cartridges to make a 75 percent savings.

Doing it once is OK, but you can be sure that some smart customers will build a stock of replacement cartridges buy purchasing several of those printers - many of which will end up as e-waste.

Olivetti is not alone in doing this scheme though. Other big printer manufacturers - Lexmark (opens in new tab) and HP (opens in new tab) are also guilty of flogging cheap printers hoping to cash in on replacement cartridges.

The "razor blade" tactics though could backfire if more consumers turn smarter which in turn will generate more e-waste.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.