Epson zaps lasers into oblivion, in the name of the environment

Inkjet is the future, claims Japanese printer maker

Japanese electronics and printer maker Epson announced this month that it will end the sale and distribution of laser printer hardware by 2026, citing sustainability issues.

According to the company, inkjets have a "greater potential" than laser printers to make "meaningful advances" when it comes to the environment.

The company already halted laser printer sales in many markets, but continued in Asia and Europe. Even though new hardware would be unavailable everywhere, Epson said it would continue to support consumers with consumables and spare parts.

"As a company we're totally committed to sustainable innovation and action, and inkjets simply use less energy and fewer consumable parts," explained Epson sales and marketing manager Koichi Kubota in canned statement. "While laser printers work by heating and fusing toner to a page, Epson's Heat-Free inkjet technology consumes less electricity by using mechanical energy to fire ink onto the page."

"Our printing business will from now put the focus on inkjet," added Kubota. A 2019 Epson blog post claimed its inkjets consume 85 percent less energy than similar-speed laser printers.

They also produce up to 85 percent less carbon dioxide, apparently equating to the absorption capacity of six cedar trees for a laser, compared to one for an inkjet.

The inkjets also have up to 59 percent fewer replaceable components – just the ink and waste ink box, compared to lasers that must have toner, drum, developer and fusers replaced regularly.

In a non-colossal coincidence, Epson has also introduced business inkjet and multi-function printers that can crank out 40 to 60 pages per minute – addressing one of inkjets' key weaknesses.

But while Epson is citing sustainability as its main reason for discontinuation, it's recently been called out for some non-green behavior in the form of bricking its own still-functioning products. The feature is known to be integrated into Epson's L360, L130, L220, L310 and L365 models.

To "unbrick" these devices, one must either see an authorized repair person or replace the machine all together, as pointed out in newsletter Fight to Repair this past July.

For Windows users, there is a third option: a maintenance reset utility that allows for temporary extended printing as a one-off. After that, see above.

Epson does offer up its recycling program for those that choose the replacement option.

The company cites print quality and performance for its reasons in bricking the machines. In particular, the company cites ink spills damaging user property or safety issues such as excess ink contacting an electrical component and becoming a hazard. ®

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