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HP Inkjet Cartridges - Why do HP Inkjet Cartridges have so much packaging material?

Introduction
This document describes the reasons why HP Inkjet cartridges come with a seemingly large amount of packaging material.
Why is there so much packaging?
HP is committed to having customers receive cartridges that work correctly right out of the box. That is why the packaging includes so much more than a box. The package has four main functions:
Protection
Protecting a cartridge during shipping and handling against mishandling is the primary role of HP supplies packaging. The packaging protects from damage due to rough handling, or from contamination. It must protect the ink from moisture loss and from air ingestion, and protects the whole cartridge from damage that would cause ink leaks. HP engineers have researched temperature changes, air pressure changes, shaking, rough handling, and drops that cartridges may experience from the time the cartridge leaves the factory to the time it is working in a printer. HP uses this data to design the package so that the cartridge works properly when first installed into a printer.
Correct choice at purchase location
Increasing competition makes it imperative for HP inkjet cartridges to maintain a distinctive and recognizable look on retail store shelves. The bevel-shaped package gives HP a distinctive visual aid that helps consumers to select genuine HP products. The physical dimensions of the product package provide space to print information about the cartridge, the printer compatibility, the color, and more. All of these elements help to ensure that customers can make the correct choice of cartridge during purchase.
Shoplifting prevention
The HP inkjet cartridge has historically been a target of shoplifters, because of its high value and small size. Due to high levels of shoplifting, the product is not always on display on the shelf or is sold in oversized PVC clamshells (large plastic, rigid shells placed over the paperboard boxes that are put on by the retailer/distributor). HP has designed the package to ensure that our customers can find the cartridge on the shelf, rather than locked away.
Communication
Finally, there must be sufficient space on the packaging panels for messages and communications. HP translates up to 80% of the information on the carton into local languages for many countries, with up to eight languages per carton. We also use this space for special offers or promotions.
Why so many layers of packaging?
HP commits to delivering cartridges that work right out of the package. Cartridges are complex systems of electrical circuits, mechanical parts, and highly specialized, extremely clean inks. These different system elements need to be protected to get to the printer in a fully functional state, no matter where they go in between. That is why cartridge packaging has so many layers.
The four major packaging components are listed below:
  • Paperboard boxes and sleeves -- provide the common look and display for the products, shoplifting protection, and protection for products accidentally dropped, shaken, or tossed.
  • Pouches allow HP cartridges to have a shelf life of at least 18 months from the time of manufacture and shipping. They protect the ink from absorbing air, which can cause bubbles which block the jets, and limit the evaporation of water over time, which can lead to clogs or other print problems.
  • Plastic trays inside the pouch –In the event that the shipping carton or individual package is dropped, the tray protects the seams and corners of the cartridge from cracking due to shock. Without a tray, dropping a cartridge or a carton of cartridges would much more likely result in damage, causing a failure to print or in poor print quality. It could result in cracks in the seams, causing leaks.
  • Inserts – contain important information regarding correct installation, use, customer notices, and new or additional offers from HP.
Why is my cartridge enclosed in a rigid plastic outer package?
HP only packages a small minority (estimated at less than 5% of volume) of its cartridges in large plastic packages (known as PVC clamshells or blister-pack packages). HP generally provides them only when requested specifically by store management, or to support a special offer, such as a double pack of cartridges. In some countries, warehouse or club-type stores require this additional plastic packaging on cartridges just to have them in the store, due to their limited display capabilities and for shoplifting deterrence.
HP adds this extra layer of plastic packaging when required or requested by stores in order to have products available for customers who prefer to shop in these stores. We are currently evaluating alternative plastics and displays to alleviate the issues associated with these packages. We encourage communication about these packages with the store where the packages are sold. Also, most locations have a store that carries the HP supplied standard paperboard package.
Is the cartridge packaging recycled or made with recycled content?
Recyclable
The paperboard and inserts used in HP cartridge packaging can be recycled in most municipal recycling programs. The polystyrene trays, which protect the cartridge from damage, can only be recycled where special polystyrene recycling programs exist. The pouches are a composite of several materials which provide a vapor barrier to keep the ink from drying out, and cannot be recycled.
Recycled content
HP uses paperboard with recycled content for its packaging and paper with recycled content for its inserts wherever practical. The amount used varies from region-to-region due to availability of the appropriate materials.

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