A real waste of ink

Ask anyone alive over the age of 40 and they’ll tell you one thing is true about modern society: “they don’t make them like they used to.”

There has long been a thriving conspiracy theory that modern companies, tech companies in particular but the theory applies elsewhere, purposefully make items so that they will only last a few years before needing to be replaced. It’s called “planned obsolescence,” and it’s far from a new idea.

But it’s just a conspiracy theory, right?

Well, maybe not so much, at least when it comes to one nefariously pesky piece of technological malpractice “crummy ink cartridges.”

I’m not much of a gambler, but I’d bet you’ve probably been in this situation before. You’ve bought a brand-new printer and, after only a handful of uses, it suddenly starts to warn you about one of the ink cartridges being low (let’s not even get into the fact that companies decided to break the “color” cartridge down into four different cartridges).

Well as it turns out, you were probably right when you swore that there was “no way it could be out of ink.” As the BBC recently reported, printer cartridges have been found to specifically only use a portion of the ink in the cartridge.

“Microchips, light sensors or batteries can disable a cartridge well before all its ink is actually used up, forcing owners to go buy entirely new, not-at-all-cheap units,” the BBC reports.

I always suspected this might be the case. I’ve had printers in the past warn me about low ink levels, and then continue to print just fine for up to a year. I will also admit that, because of how expensive ink cartridges can be, I’ve actually bought entirely new printers in the past just to save a few dollars and avoid having to buy new ink cartridges.

Ridiculous? Yes. Wasteful? Also, yes. Exactly what the company was hoping I’d do? Well, what do you think?

According to the same report, over 350 million “not even empty” cartridges end up in landfills every year. To me, this is one of the most egregious forms of real planned obsolescence happening in the tech world, and it isn’t even one most people are talking about.

Usually when you’re talking tech that’s “designed to be replaced” you’re talking about cellphones, the latest and greats of which comes out ever year and claims to far outpace the year befores’ latest and greatest.

No one stop to think about the hundreds of millions of wasted ink cartridges going to the dump that don’t have to be there. Or, if you’re like me, whole printers being tossed because you can’t bother to pay an extra 10 bucks for a $50 ink cartridge.

And let’s not even get started on batteries, it’s almost like those things only have a limited charge or something.

Gary Reddin lives in Duncan and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.