Cartridge refill service continues to grow

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —Walgreens has been the only major retailer to roll out inkjet cartridge refills in a big way, and plans to have them in 4,000 stores by the end of the year. But more retailers are looking at the service now that high gas prices and inflation are forcing people to find ways to save money.

Refill service supplier InkTec Zone announced this month that it’s nearing a deal to install refill stations in New Jersey retailer Drug Fair. Tentative plans call for the 59-store retailer to offer refills in 25 stores starting this summer.

InkTec Zone said it also expects to launch refills in test markets this fall at a “major pharmacy retailer.” InkTec Zone America president and chief executive officer Bill McKenney said tests likely would be in one or two markets in the Northeast close to its corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

McKenney said many of the more than 100 stores that use InkTec refill stations have reported a “big spike in sales” starting in May, around the time that gas prices started to soar. He said the fact that refills cost only $10 for black cartridges—about half the price of a new one—is making the service more attractive to cash-strapped consumers.

And, he said, retailers also are interested in the going green message that cartridge refills deliver, since they reuse cartridges multiple times and save them from landfills, noting that up to 1 million empty cartridges are thrown away each day.