Scottish remanufacture hub plans confirmed

October 30, 2014

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland; with Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland; with Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead

Environment Secretary confirms funding for new research centre for the country’s remanufacturing sector.

At the Scottish Resources Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced plans for the £1.3 million ($2 million/€1.65 million) Scottish Institute of Remanufacture, with a statement confirming the announcement published on the Scottish government’s website.

Noting that the plans could see the country’s remanufacturing sector “entering a golden era”, Lochhead also announced the creation of a Scottish Materials Brokerage Service, described as “a one-stop shop to grow Scotland’s reprocessing sector, and help the public sector to get a better deal for the recycled materials collected from their communities”.

Lochhead highlighted that the Scottish economy could benefit from high value products and materials, such as gold and electronic components, which could be taken from disused TVs, mobile phones and computers; and so the new pan-Scottish hub “will focus on realising the vast value in the materials and components within the products we recycle”.

Commenting on the plans, Lochhead said: “The Scottish government is serious about creating a greener, more circular economy, where our valuable products and materials remain in useful circulation for longer, creating and sustaining jobs in the process.

“The challenge is to redesign products to make it easier to take them apart and remanufacture them into new products, and harness their true value. We need Scotland’s brightest and best minds to be focused on achieving this more circular use of valuable products and materials and that is what the new Scottish Institute of Remanufacture will do.”

He concluded: “Scotland can become an international leader on innovative waste solutions by creating a greener, more circular economy. I look forward to seeing further progress down this path with these two innovative schemes.”

The Scottish Institute of Remanufacture is to be hosted by the University of Strathclyde, with Vice-Principal Professor Scott MacGregor commenting: “The University of Strathclyde is committed to working with partners in industry and academia to advance technology to benefit the economy in Scotland and beyond. As home to the UK’s largest remanufacturing research group, the university is well-positioned to ensure Scotland is at the forefront of supporting remanufacturing and we are delighted to be hosting the new institute.”

Meanwhile, Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan, said: “The launch of the remanufacturing centre is excellent news for Scotland. The institute can become a centre of excellence and expertise for a sector which has exciting potential to develop a sustainable manufacturing industry in Scotland.

“Our current make-and-dispose economic model cannot continue and by focusing on remanufacture and reuse, Scotland can develop a circular economy which makes better use of resources and creates jobs.  Zero Waste Scotland will work with partners in all sectors to support this development.

“Zero Waste Scotland is also excited about the transformative impact the materials brokerage service could have in driving high quality recycling and reprocessing in Scotland, and we are working with Scottish Procurement to make sure the service gets off to a strong start in January.”

Read more about this story in the next issue of The Recycler.

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Lexmark granted potentially significant EU patent

October 29, 2014

An image from the granted Lexmark patent

An image from the granted Lexmark patent

The patent refers to a “skiving seal” in a toner cartridge, which might affect toner remanufacturers.

Lexmark’s granted patent, EP 2 577 403 B1, generally focuses on a toner container system for a toner cartridge, making reference to the “reservoir for containing toner”, the “rotatable member positioned within” an opening in the reservoir, and most significantly a “skiving seal”.

This seal is set out in the document as being made “for blocking toner from entering a gap between the opening and the rotatable member”, and is positioned “along the length of the rotatable member”. The seal itself is made of a flexible sheet with “a surface and a length corresponding to the length of the gap” in the reservoir.

A tubular portion “adjacent” to the gap is formed to create the seal, with the sheet folded over itself, and the patent therefore is significant to toner remanufacturers because when replacing the seal during the remanufacturing of the cartridge covered by the patent, remanufacturers might be undertaking what can be seen in the document as a manufacturing aspect of the patent, which only Lexmark could undertake legally.

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UK circular economy drive enters “new and ambitious phase”

October 28, 2014

The Circular Economy Task Force aims to “put policy reform in the spotlight”.

Sue Armstrong-Brown, Chair of the Circular Economy Task Force (Credit: Edie)

Sue Armstrong-Brown, Chair of the Circular Economy Task Force (Credit: Edie)

Edie reported on the appointment of Sue Armstrong-Brown to the chair of the Circular Economy Task Force, which was established by the Green Alliance two years ago, with Brown stating that the task force is aiming to change government policy and put “reform in the spotlight” in a “new and ambitious phase” for the circular economy in the UK.

Whilst there are “still a range of systemic barriers to the UK adopting the circular economy model”, Armstrong-Brown believes that “policy is at the heart of overcoming them”, with the task force publishing reports in the last couple of years that “identified the barriers” blocking the circular economy and addressing the “broken recycling system” in the UK to “encourage more valuable remanufacturing and redesign”.

A third report will look at the role and influence of “government institutions and the reforms necessary to bring about a step-change in UK resource management”, with a focus on information sharing with the EU, where “circular economy thinking is a step ahead of the UK”.

Armstrong-Brown stated: “The Task Force has been very effective in getting the conversation started. But what I’d hope to achieve in the next two-year phase is to come up with some really clear, achievable, deliverable steps for the next Government to put into place to support the circular economy. There are things that could be done at a policy level that would enable it to happen better and faster – that’s what we’re going to be focusing on. Targets can be a useful driver for behaviour change, but they’re not the only one and they might not be the most important thing to implement.

“Our first two reports really highlighted the opportunity gap for the circular economy. Now, we want to develop some policy solutions that close that gap. We’re in touch with Defra and BIS for this new analysis and as results come out we’ll be having conversations with them about the options we’ve come up with to progress – we can, at the very least, stimulate some conversation. The findings will be released relatively soon.”

The Recycler reported earlier this month on European debates about transitioning to a circular economy, while government and businesses have been working towards a future that embraces the model. UK MP Laura Sandys also spoke in July of her backing for the circular economy model’s implementation in the UK.

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Pelikan workers in Scotland “resigned” to losing jobs

October 27, 2014

The plant in Turriff (Credit: Press and Journal)

The plant in Turriff (Credit: Press and Journal)

Staff at the company’s ribbon plant in Turriff are “resigned to the fact” that they will lose their jobs in company restructuring.

Press and Journal reported on workers at Pelikan Hardcopy’s Turriff plant in Scotland, who were informed that “their jobs are under threat as management considers redundancies” a couple of weeks after Pelikan reported it may close its plants in Switzerland as well as China.

The news outlet describes the factory as “cash-strapped”, and a “sombre atmosphere” at the factory late last week came as its 83 staff “braced themselves for union negotiations and sweeping job losses”. The plant produces thermal transfer film for ribbons as well as ink, and is said to be “no stranger to job cuts”, as 80 staff were made redundant in 2002 after Pelikan “reported a decline in revenue from its traditional typewriter and printer ribbons”.

Pelikan Hardcopy Scotland, the regional subsidiary in charge of the plant, was also said by the site to have suffered a 13 percent drop in revenue between 2010 and 2011, with takings falling from £10.57 million ($17.02 million/€13.41 million) to £9.23 million ($14.87 million/€11.71 million), as well as a “widening of its pension scheme deficit” from £7.42 million ($11.95 million/€9.41 million) to £8.84 million ($14.24 million/€11.22 million).

An unnamed worker stated that staff are “resigned to the fact really. The problem is the company haven’t kept up with the times. We still make carbon paper. We still make typewriter ribbon. When was the last typewriter made – 1969?” adding that 25 redundancies are expected, or “one third of the workforce”, and another employee stated that the plant’s mood was “quiet […] we’ve not been told anything. There’s not been a meeting. I think everyone else knows more than us”.

In turn, worker’s union Unite’s North-East Regional Officer Tommy Campbell told Press and Journal that the union “will hold talks” with Pelikan, adding that “we’ve been advised of the potential for redundancies and the union will be entering into talks in the coming weeks. It is always difficult and disappointing when the threat of job losses hangs over a workforce but we will be looking at all possibilities to avoid any redundancies”.

Local politicians also commented, with community councillor John Smith noting that he “worked as an accountant there many years ago, before it was taken over by Pelikan. The business has changed so much in nature. Big businesses go in these phases of laying people off – Pelikan certainly has that in its history – so I’m not sure if it’s a surprise”.

Aberdeenshire Councillor Sandy Duncan also stated: “I’m really disappointed – I share the staff’s disappointment. It’s a good source of employment in Turriff although it has had its ups and downs. But this has come out of the blue. I don’t know the exact unemployment figure for Turriff but certainly if that place starts paying people off it can’t help.”

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Clover joins US technology association

October 23, 2014

The remanufacturer has been appointed as a board member of Technology United.technologyunited

The association was founded in 2011, and includes ESP, Intel, Green Hills Software, GreatAmerica Financial Services, MWA Intelligence and fellow remanufacturer LMI Solutions. It states that it is “dedicated to providing the best and most aggressive technology and services” in IT security, embedded technology, IT automation and supply chain management.

Clover stated that as it “provides a vast breadth of technology products including imaging supplies, printer parts, and server and computer parts”, becoming part of the association will allow other Technology United members to “leverage Clover’s comprehensive service platform to fulfil their customers’ needs”.

Steve Noyes, Senior Vice President of Clover, said: “I am excited to represent Clover on the Board of Directors at Technology United and look forward to the collaborative opportunities it will provide. Our broad product assortment nicely complements the innovative technology solutions Technology United provides its global customer base.”

Mike Stramaglio, President and CEO of MWA Intelligence, added: “Everyone at Technology United is pleased to welcome Clover to the Technology United team. It is always a pleasure to have companies join our innovation family of great thought leaders who are dedicated to improving the industry. As Chairman, I look forward to a long and beneficial relationship.”

Clover announced earlier this year that it had agreed a strategic merger with global remanufacturer MSE, and previously acquired other industry companies including Dematec, K+U Printware and ERS.

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HP requires resellers to provide end-user information

October 21, 2014

hplogonewThe OEM has edited its authorised reseller policy, to require resellers to collect information about end-users for reporting to HP.

Actionable Intelligence (subscription required) reported on the changes, which came into force on Monday 20 October, and which are the latest expansion of the OEM’s partner programme revamp, which it first announced last November.

The programme’s changes last year were an attempt for the OEM to create more interconnected partnerships with channel partners in the USA, with the main issue being that an authorised partner would invalidate its agreement with HP if it resold HP products to a non-authorised reseller instead of the end-user – a big issue in terms of cartridge supply.

Steve Sakumoto, Vice President and General Manager of US Supplies Sales Organisation, Printing and Personal Systems, stated at the time that HP’s distribution system is switching from “open” to “authorised”, adding that “we’re basically asking all of our reseller partners just to register with HP so we can know who they are”.

Then, in April HP announced it would ban US partners from selling its consumables unless they had registered, with partners required to comply and obtain “Qualified” status, or be prevented from selling HP consumables – with this due to come into effect on 1 November.

The new changes now force resellers to provide end-user information to the OEM, with an email sent to authorised partners notifying them that as of 20 October, HP will collect the information via distributors and partners, who will have to provide this when placing orders, and this information includes customer names and addresses.

HP’s argument is that the data will help support its improvements in support and shipments, with resellers who already report directly to HP needing to report this information to the OEM as well, and the only exception will be in the case of restocking products. Concerns over selling third-party consumables were addressed by Sakumoto, who said “we full support choice in the marketplace”, though reseller numbers have almost halved since the reforms were announced last November.

David Connett, Editor and Publisher of The Recycler, stated: “Ever since HP sold printers and consumables the dealer has owned and managed the relationship with the customer, but these changes, along with its ongoing MPS strategy, are about the new HP Inc (or HP Ink) trying to own and eventually manage the relationship with the customer.

“For the smaller players in the market, the relationship with the customer is the most valuable part of their business, and I can’t see many of them giving that relationship to HP. So they will walk, and sell other printers and consumables, and in the meantime increase the sales of non OEM product. Good for the other printer brands, and good for the non-OEM consumables channel, but on the surface another doomed HP initiative.”

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False advertising case’s implications discussed

October 20, 2014

The case between Static Control and Lexmark continues to have an affect on the legal landscape in the USA.supremecourtseal copy

MetroCorpCounsel interviewed two US lawyers about the legislation concerning false advertising, including the “recent developments” in a number of cases including between Static Control and Lexmark, in which Static Control won the right to sue the OEM in March earlier this year.

The site interviewed Danielle DeFilippis and Ami Bhatt, Associates at Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus, about the case and a number of others that impact upon false advertising law. DeFilippis stated that the Supreme Court “articulated a new test to determine whether a claimant has standing to bring a Lanham Act claim” for false advertising, which The Recycler reported on in April this year.

The new format allows for a two-step inquiry into whether a “claimant has standing” to bring a false advertising case: a zone of interests test, and a proximate cause analysis; the former of which covers those who “allege an injury to a commercial interest in reputation or sales”, and the latter demanding a party “must show economic or reputational injury flowing directly from the deception wrought by the defendant’s advertising”.

DeFilippis added that the ruling in the Static Control-Lexmark case “can have the effect of limiting or increasing suits”, depending on the “jurisdiction and the test previously employed”, and noted that there has been “significant case law interpreting and applying the test since the decision was made”, but “whether litigation will increase or decrease across the nation remains to be seen […] it will be interesting to see how courts analyse the level of proof needed to ‘allege’ proximate cause”.

Bhatt also mentioned that the case, along with a number of others involving companies such as Coca-Cola, has meant that “false or misleading advertising will continue to face scrutiny from competitors or from regulatory bodies”, and that companies “should take care in crafting promotional materials, whether in print, on packaging, or online, to ensure that the information presented is accurate and within the bounds of the law”.

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Canon granted relevant EU patent

October 16, 2014

Canon's granted patent, EP 1 184 742 B1

Canon’s granted patent, EP 1 184 742 B1

The patent concerns a “removably mountable” supply container, with implications for remanufacturers and compatible manufacturers.

The patent – EP 1 184 742 B1 – was filed in 2001, meaning that it has taken 13 years to be granted, and this document holds relevance for the industry. It refers to an “image forming apparatus and developer supply container removably mountable in [the] image forming apparatus” – with the document going into detail about the cover on the container being “moveable between a first and a second position”.

The document goes on to define specifically the importance of the cover to the printer, as it covers a “developer discharging portion”, and moves between covering this and not covering it – allowing for the flow of the developer onto the media. It adds that with regard to the cartridge, which is “detachably mountable”, the cover moves from one position to another, with the second position “above the first position and […] further from said process cartridge than the first position”.

The supply container is mounted to the printer “along an axis” of the image bearing member, and all of this together means that any company attempting to remanufacture the cartridge or produce a compatible has to regard the cover’s connection to the device – and its relation with the cartridge and developer discharging portion, with the entire unit working together and patented together.

The Recycler reported on significant Canon patents applied for and granted in June earlier this year, with ETIRA announcing it would investigate another Canon patent registered towards the start of 2014.

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Xerox speaks on multi-brand cartridges in India

October 15, 2014

One of Xerox's multi-brand toner cartridges

One of Xerox’s multi-brand toner cartridges

The OEM spoke about toner cartridges it’s made for use in HP and Canon machines.

Deccan Chronicle interviewed Xerox India’s Balaji Rajagopalan, Executive Director for Technology, Channels and International Distributor Operations, about the OEM’s partnership with Flipkart to produce multi-branded toner cartridges for use in HP and Canon machines, the launch of which The Recycler reported on earlier this year.

The cartridges, branded as Xerox products, are “specifically designed and catered for HP and Canon printers”, with Xerox stating that they are “designed to take on the toner refilling market and make replacing laser toner cartridges as cheap as refilled ones”. Rajagopalan responded to the site’s question about support from other manufacturers by noting that “what typically happens in the marketplace is we start competing with others, so it is not a question of promoting.

“Obviously, our competition will have their own cartridges and they will promote use of the same for their devices. What we are offering now is Xerox branded cartridges that are manufactured to the exacting quality and standards that Xerox is known for. It is completely legal and it is not just any third party who is marketing these, these carry the Xerox brand and these have been made for use in HP and Canon printers.

“This brings in the confidence of quality and what really matters in the cartridges is the quality, reliability and yield and we make sure that the yield is as good and matches the quality produced as OEM’s cartridges”. Adding that the other OEMs do not mind these products being produced by Xerox, he said in response to whether these other OEMs are “recommending” the cartridges that “obviously, we will continue to compete. I will push my cartridges and HP will push theirs”.

In terms of warranty and damage, Rajagopalan commented that “in most cases the use of an alternate consumable brand does not impact the warranty of the product”, and that “given the quality of the product and rigorous testing it has been subjected to”, users will “have a smooth experience”.

Asked about refilling, he commented that “we do not promote refilling, and we have an awareness and education programme for our customers, [talking] to them about using original cartridges and avoid[ing] refilling”. Xerox also “do[es] not have any such [recycling or remanufacturing] programme in India, though “this is something we would like to get into, but nothing is decided as of now”.

Finally, Rajagopalan noted that Xerox is “not going there” in regards to producing Epson-compatible cartridges, though the programme “will be extended further in the coming months” across India.

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German production falls four percent

October 13, 2014

manufacturingIndustrial production and manufacturing saw their highest falls since 2009.

Bloomberg reported that German industrial production fell by “more than economists forecast” in August, the biggest drop since 2009, noting that this was “the latest sign that the outlook for Europe’s largest economy is deteriorating”.

Production fell four percent from July, where it had grown by 1.6 percent, and Bloomberg stated the German economy is “losing momentum” due to confidence issues surrounding “sluggish growth in the euro area” and “political tension with Russia”. Weak data relating to the economy has reportedly “raised the spectre of recession” in the country, adding to a fall in factory orders of 5.7 percent in August and a fall in manufacturing, with orders “falling at the fastest pace since 2012”.

Output of investment goods fell by 8.8 percent, and of intermediate goods by 1.9 percent, with consumer-goods production down by 0.4 percent and construction by two percent. In turn, business confidence fell to its lowest in “almost one and a half years”, whilst unemployment increased for the second month in a row.

Andreas Rees, Chief German Economist at UniCredit MIB in Munich, commented: “[While] the setback in industrial production in August was a massive one, [there is] no reason to panic. German industrial activity will soften in coming months, as already indicated by business sentiment, but not tumble into the abyss. And no, there is no reason to dig up the R-word again.”

In turn, Ralph Solveen, Head of Economic Research at Commerzbank AG in Frankurt, added: “The German economy will develop rather weakly in the second half of this year. And in light of the weak trend in orders, we would not expect a great deal for the final quarter of this year.” Solveen also forecast that third-quarter GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will “be little changed”.

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