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We contribute to a circular economy

How recycled toners support a circular economy: an interview with Michael Hartmann from PRINTION.

How recycled toners contribute to a circular economy: an interview with Michael Hartmann from PRINTION.

Even as the world is becoming more and more digital, we sometimes still need to print things. According to the European Toner & Inkjet Remanufacturers Association (ETIRA), around 120 million toner cartridges are sold in Europe every year. But the life cycle of toner cartridges doesn’t need to end when the toner powder has run out. Some suppliers specialise in refurbishing printer consumables and remanufacturing empty toner and ink cartridges. This process allows empty cartridges to be used a second or even a third time, which drastically reduces waste and conserves the earth’s scarce resources.

We interviewed Michael Hartmann, Managing Director at PRINTION GmbH, who’s been working in the toner business for over 20 years. Find out why recycled toners contribute to a circular economy and climate neutrality.

Your product name ‘Klima-Toner’ evokes a sense of climate protection. What’s your sustainability mission?

We care about sustainability and protecting the earth’s scarce resources. So we do our part in contributing to a circular economy by focusing on reusing products. This way, we can close the cycle with sustainability in mind. An original product can’t do that, even if the company slaps an eco-label on it or invests in carbon compensation programmes. To make a new toner casing, you need large amounts of resources, such as petroleum and metals. And it doesn’t really make an impact if a small part of the plastics used are from recycled materials or not. Even replica toner cartridges use new materials and components and nothing is recycled – all of which creates a huge carbon footprint.

At Klima-Toner, we work differently: the empty cartridges are collected and refilled right here in Germany. This cuts long transport routes from Asia, as is the case with both the original and replica toner cartridges. We also offer a free take-back service for empty cartridges so we can recirculate them. Many of our products have the Nordic Swan Ecolabel certification. This label represents the sustainable production of recycled toners from beginning to end. As one of the last remaining manufacturers that still produce in Germany, we also create jobs in the region. We care about fair wages and working conditions, and we condemn child labour or exploitation.

We contribute to the resilience of the regional economy because regional companies are also involved in our production.

We contribute to the resilience of the regional economy because local companies manufacture our products.

Michael Hartmann, Managing Director at PRINTION GmbH

How do you make sure that the quality of your cartridges match that of original toner cartridges? What are the benefits of recycled toners from a sustainability point of view?

We make a distinction between original, recycled (rebuilt) and remanufactured (new-built). There are also major differences in quality and sustainable value.

Our Klima-Toners (rebuilt) do a lot more for climate neutrality than original or new-built products. By reusing the cartridge body itself, we’re already eliminating the consumption of raw materials such as petroleum and metals. The fact that we produce locally makes our transport routes that much shorter. And then there’s the price – when you buy one of our toners as opposed to other recycled or replica products, you save up to 60%. Plus, the returns rate is a lot lower. We rely on tried and tested engineering for our products. Our production is ISO-9001-certified, and we do all our manufacturing by DIN-33870 standards.  New-built products may be cheaper. But their pollutants can also be a health hazard for the user, not to mention their negative impact on the environment. That’s why I recommend opting for a high-quality product made in Germany. The law of economics makes it impossible for you to get a lot of value for little money. That means if you buy cheap, you end up buying twice.

How does your service benefit your customers in their day-to-day office management?

Solid engineering, which is the foundation of any high-quality product. If our customers experience any issues with the product, they have a contact person to consult them or even come by to fix the issue on site. Defective products from Asia are often thrown away because of their low price point and lack of customer service. Frustrated users usually avoid exploring alternative products. Instead, they go back to buying the expensive original, which is a huge loss for our environment. In our manufacturing process, we follow DIN standards for recycled products. The Covid-19 pandemic caused tons of supply bottlenecks and long transport routes all over the world. But we weren’t experiencing those difficulties. Thanks to our warehousing and short routes, we were able to continue to supply our customers in Germany.

Which sectors do you supply?

We have a mixed customer base. Several of them are public sector clients that we win through tenders. Especially authorities and other public sector institutions still need large amounts of printed documents. We’re seeing a trend towards sustainability and eco-friendly products. Also, regional/social criteria are becoming more and more important. But there’s still room for improvement: public tenders usually come with a whole list of demands, while smaller public clients are more flexible. They can detach themselves from tenders and decide for themselves what really matters to them.

But there are many other sectors that understand the potential of recycled toner cartridges, from education and healthcare to industrial and SME clients. Even small craft businesses are rethinking how they buy.

Klima-Toner is now available on Unite’s Sustainable Choice page.

About Klima-Toner

Klima-Toners are refurbished toner cartridges. They’re eco-friendly, high quality and come at a fair price point. They’re made from empty toner cartridges and refurbished right here in Germany. Klima-Toner printer consumables improve businesses’ carbon footprint. They’re also more cost-effective when compared to original toners. Klima-Toner is a PRINTION GmbH retail brand specialising in printer accessories.

Klima-Toner products are now available on the German initiative Sustainable Choice von Unite.

The sustainable future of our economy is based on the simple principle of achieving mutual benefit.


The sustainable future of our economy is based on the simple principle of achieving mutual benefit. Our digital ecosystem creates better opportunities for innovative solutions and trailblazers. Find out more about how we connect the economy for sustainable business.