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Soy-Based Toner Cartridges? 389

Posted by kdawson
from the it's-green-they-say-on-the-far-side-of-the-hill dept.
Jon.Laslow writes "I'm getting a lot of pressure from managers to switch to soy-based toner cartridges for our laser printers because they are 'greener.' The problem is, the only information I can find on them is from sales pitches; and the reviews all seem to be user testimonials. Do you have any experience soy-based printing products? Did you have any issues with them, and how was the print quality?"
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Soy-Based Toner Cartridges?

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  • Baby steps (Score:1, Interesting)

    by PNutts (199112) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:25AM (#27826879)

    Our office changed all printers' defaults to Draft Mode and duplexing. I've also seen articles on fonts that are composed of tiny dots that use about half the toner.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:40AM (#27826973)

    Will your documents be readable in 1 year, 5, 15? What about regularly handled documents in binders in humid environments- does it imprint the opposite page or rub off?

    These seem like the prudent questions to be asking.

  • You gotta RTFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:44AM (#27826995)

    Those user testimonials are great! I like how all their users synchronized their postings! There are 3 on June 2nd from 11:32 to 11:34, 1 on June 5th, and 5 from June 20th from 12:30 to 12:31.

    Hilarious...

  • Re:Be Green (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:04AM (#27827111) Homepage

    I haven't actually seen it in use, so I can't say what it will look like, but if the quality is equivalent to that of carbon based toner, then there is no reason not to use it, and a few small reasons TO use it.

    It is not inconceivable that soy toner would be less green when you figure in the energy costs of farming, the fact that stripped earth grawing a monocrop is far less effective at absorbing carbon than forest or grassland, the fact that fertilizer is made from natural gas, fact that the soy is likely transported great distances to where the processing plant exists, the fossil fuel cost of creating all the equipment for farming which may surpass that required to set up an oil well and pipe the oil to its destination, etc. etc. That 0.1% of crude oil use for toner might well be less favorable once the fossil fuel costs of soy, and the potentially environmentally degrading impact of farming are plugged into the equation, offset by the energy costs required to produce oil.

    Besides, wouldn't make more sense to attack the problem by printing less or finding a substitute for plastic? I'm just guessing, but on weight basis drums and cartridge bodies probably contain a heck of a lot more oil.

  • Re:Be Green (Score:5, Interesting)

    by codeButcher (223668) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:49AM (#27827631)
    To put it a little bit simpler: paper with soy-based ink goes onto my compost [wikipedia.org] pile or into my worm farm [wikipedia.org]. Paper with other or unknown ink goes into the municipal garbage landfill ("not my problem") since my worms seem to sometimes misteriously die from it.
  • Re:Ad absurdium (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @06:17AM (#27828199) Homepage Journal

    When the ink jet containers themselves are made of soy, and the mfgs standardize their cartridges so that reuse is more feasible,

    Most laser carts are eminently refillable, which is why there's a whole industry based on it.

    It behooves you to purchase a laser printer with carts known to be refillable, and if you didn't do this you made a poor purchasing decision (color lasers are exempt from this statement.)

    Toner is one of the most toxic things in your office, and it releases horrible nasty shit when it is fused. If a Soy-based product were substantially better in this regard, that might be sufficient justification to switch.

  • by Adeptus_Luminati (634274) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @10:26AM (#27830503)

    Have your managers watch "The Future of Food" (google it), and how thousands of North American farms are forced to grow genetically modified Soy crops instead of natural and varied food/plant species and they may realize that while it's greener, it's not necessarily the most moral or genetically diverse thing to be doing.

  • Re:Buy one... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rndmtim (664101) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @12:33PM (#27832651) Homepage
    Yeah, well the recyclers aren't going to know which paper was printed with soy ink, so unless all regular toner is phased out soy ink paper isn't going to help here... unless we create a totally separate waste stream is created for offices that are 100% soy.
  • by RockDoctor (15477) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:51AM (#27843113) Journal

    That movie never made any sense to me.

    The movie is a second or third-level derivative. Look at the original short story by IIRC Harry Harrison (entitled "Roommates" according to Wikipedia, though I'm quite sure that I read it under the next title) ; some years later Harrison expanded the short story into a novel and called it "Make Room!, Make Room!" ; I'm not clear on whether the novel formed the basis for the screenplay, or whether both were developed in parallel (this is about the time that "2001" underwent a similar trajectory from short story to novel and film).
    The themes of overpopulation and mass starvation are much clearer in the printed versions, either of them (I don't recommend one over the other ; their relationship is obvious, but they are different ; either is good and you don't lose anything by reading both).

    If the only food supply is people, how long can a society last?

    It is very clear in the print versions that "SoyLent Green" is a relative luxury, compared to the more common (but lower nutritional value) "SoyLent Yellow". I always took the impression that the "SoyLent" part was a "hard tack"-like [wikipedia.org] base, to which various flavourings, texture modifiers and/or nutritional supplements were added to make the various different colour varieties. The nutritional paucity of the average dole diet, un-supplemented by begged/stolen/brought supplements is attested throughout the written versions, such as a sideline on Kwashiorkor [wikipedia.org] (a protein deficiency disease) which the film cuts to little more than a brief comment on peanut butter.

    The story also has explicit, though minor, plot elements of "meat-leggers" (illegal traders in real meat); I don't recall them getting an airing at all in the film. Again, there are evidently other sources of nutrition than people ; they're just a protein supplement.

    A human body would feed you for maybe one week. Then what do you use to survive?

    Eat enough people and you'll have enough room (the novel is "Make Room!, Make Room!" ; that's in the closest that English has to the Imperative case!) to plant crops. Remember to dig your shit into the soil for fertiliser. Also, remember to plant the rest of the corpses somewhere that the worms can "etten you up" (to misquote the traditional song of "Ilkley Moor"). That's another way of recycling proteins and minerals. It puts an entirely different light on "Duck Soup".

    Part of Harrison's theme is that even without overt external war and patent disease, society has broken down purely because of it's refusal to face important facts. Which is as important a point today as it was when I was only a glint in my un-sterilised father's eye.

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