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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5862


Senator Milne asked the Minister for Human Services, upon notice, on 14 July 2008:

(1)   Does the department have a policy regarding the use of remanufactured printer products as opposed to buying new ones; if so, does the department assess the cost and re-useability of the product as part of its decision-making in regard to the policy.

(2)   Does the department have a policy directive to use remanufactured printer products and, by doing so, lower the balance of payments through reducing imports.

(3)   What environmental standard has the department put in place in regard to the disposal of printer cartridges.

(4)   Is the Minster aware that several of the printer companies are now putting chips in printer cartridges so that they cannot be re-used.

(5)   Does the department have any contractual arrangements with Lexmark or Epson; if so, is the department party to any ‘Prebate’ program.

(6)   Does the department know what happens to the printer cartridges when they are empty.

(7)   With whom does the department hold a printer supply contract and what are the conditions of the contract.

(8)   How much does the department spend on printer cartridges each financial year.

(9)   Does the department use Planet Ark to recycle cartridges.

(10)   Does the department use foreign companies such as Corporate Express when purchasing printer cartridges.


Senator Ludwig (Minister for Human Services) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

Core Department (excluding CRS Australia)

(1)   The core DHS department leverages the Centrelink-Fuji Xerox Australia (FXA) contract for the provision of printers and multi-function devices (MFDs), which includes black print cartridges in the lease costs. As such, there is not a policy regarding the use of remanufactured printer products. The Child Support Program within the department has an Environmental Policy which recommends the use of remanufactured and recyclable consumables, including printer products. Printer products are currently supplied through contractual arrangements between the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and EDS, however, no specific assessments of cost and re-useability have been required.

(2)   There is no current policy directive to use remanufactured printer products within the core DHS department. Both colour and black print cartridges are supplied through FXA as part of the conditions of the printer contract. The contract held between the ATO and EDS, which supplies printer products for the CS Program, stipulates that arrangements for the supply of printer cartridges must comply with the ATO’s Environmental Policy.

(3)   Environmental standards for cartridge disposal are not required to be in place under the conditions of the DHS-FXA as expended cartridges are collected by the supplier and returned to the manufacturer. FXA has advised that expended cartridges are used in remanufacturing processes. The FXA 2008 Environmental Sustainability Report (available from the FXA public website - http://www.fujixerox.com.au/environment/environmental_management.jsp) states that FXA retains its ISO 14001certification for environmental management. In regard to disposal of printer products for the CS Program, ATO and EDS have contracted ATI for the provision and disposal of printer cartridges. Used toner cartridges are collected and disposed through industry approved environmental methods. For Fuji Xerox devices, they are placed in FX collection boxes and returned to FX. For the new Lexmark printers, ATI has arranged for disposal through Planet Ark (a cartridge recycling organisation).

(4)   Some printer companies build microchips into their printer cartridges to reduce the use of third-party or refilled cartridges. The advice is that these cartridges can be reused by returning them to the original manufacturer.

(5)   The core DHS department does not have any contractual arrangements with Lexmark or Epson. The CS program does not have any direct contractual arrangements with either company, although through their arrangements with ATO and EDS, Lexmark products are used.

(6)   Printer cartridges purchased through a ‘Prebate’ program are returned to the original manufacturer where they are remanufactured with the majority of the original cartridge being reused. Advice from the DHS FXA Account Executive is that the returned (expended) cartridges are remanufactured. Remanufacturing of printing products used by the CS Program varies, as outlined in the response to Question 3.

(7)   The current contract for the core DHS department is with Fuji Xerox Australia. Basic conditions of the contract include:

  • three year lease on Printing devices (printers and MFDs);
  • lease price includes Black and white printing (black print cartridges);
  • FXA deliver (and install if required) new/remanufactured cartridges to the site and remove expended cartridges; and
  • the department pays for colour cartridges (for printers) and a colour click charge (for MFDs).

   As noted in previous responses, the printer supply contract for the CS Program is held between ATO and EDS. Conditions of the contract include:

  • lease on printing devices until 30 June 2010; and
  • provision and disposal of printer consumables separately billed from printer lease as part of contract with ATI.

(8)   In the 2007-08 financial year the core DHS department has spent approximately $11,000 on Colour Printer Cartridges. Black Cartridges are included in the device lease price and do not form part of this figure. The total amount spent by the CS Program for printer cartridges in the 2007-08 financial year was approximately $488,000.

(9)   Planet Ark is used to recycle cartridges in relation to Lexmark products for the CS Program as outlined in the response to Question 3.

(10)   The majority of both core Department and CS Program printer cartridges are supplied through their respective printer service contracts. There are, however, a small number of non-standard printers (e.g. portable inkjet) and there is no specific policy preventing these parts being sourced from foreign-owned companies.

CRS Australia

(1)   CRS Australia has no specific policy regarding the use of remanufactured printer products. All purchasing complies with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.

(2)   See (1) above.

(3)   CRS Australia has joined the Close the Loop program. It is CRS Australia’s policy to utilise this program for the disposal of printer cartridges.

(4)   Some printer companies build microchips into their printer cartridges to reduce the use of third-party or refilled cartridges. The advice is that these cartridges can be reused by returning them to the original manufacturer.

(5)   CRS Australia does not have any contractual arrangements with Lexmark or Epson.

(6)   Not applicable as the answer to question (5) is ‘no’.

(7)   CRS Australia has a contract with Konica Minolta for the leasing (including the supply of cartridges) of Multi Function Devices which combine printing, scanning and photocopying functions in a single device. CRS Australia has no contract for the supply of print devices only.

(8)   CRS Australia spent $97,752.32 (excluding GST) in the 2007-08 financial year on printer cartridges.

(9)   No.

(10)   Yes, CRS Australia has a contract with Corporate Express for office supplies, including printer cartridges for its fleet of Lexmark printers. As per (7) above, cartridges for the Multi Functional Devices (MFDs) are provided by Konica Minolta under the lease agreement.