“You’re not still using a laser printer, are you?” Shaq asked back in a 2020 Epson EcoTank commercial. The company has been bullish on inkjets for some time, and now they’re going all in.

Epson will stop making laser printers by 2026, and the company is citing environmental reasons as the main reason.

In a statement, Epson notes that “laser technology’s limited ability to make significant steps towards improved sustainability due to its requirement for heat during the print process, and therefore increased energy use.”

Studies from more than a decade ago confirmed as much, finding that inkjet printers use substantially less energy during the printing process. While a laser printer can draw hundreds of watts during a print, an inkjet generally draws less than 20 watts.

Epson also cites the reduced number of moving parts as a plus for inkjet printers. Fewer components that can break down also means fewer replacement parts to produce, which contributes to an even smaller carbon footprint over the life of a printer.

Epson AM-C Series

There’s also no longer a significant drop-off in performance when you opt for an inkjet over a laser printer. Epson recently announced new WorkForce Enterprise AM-Series inkjets that can churn out between 40 and 60 pages per minute. As you can see, the AM-Series printers share few similarities with the diminutive desktop units that were once basically given away to get consumers hooked on ink cartridges.

Ars Technica points out that Epson’s move could indeed result in the company producing printers that consume less power. But if the company really cared about the environment, Epson probably wouldn’t be in the habit of bricking otherwise functional printers because of ink pads that are allegedly oversaturated… because you know what’s good for the environment? Not forcing customers to buy new hardware when their old hardware should still be useable, perhaps with a little minor maintenance or repair work.

So is the company’s move away from laser printers really about what’s best for the environment? Or is is about what’s best for Epson’s bottom line?

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a little more information about Epson’s decision to make some inkjet printers that were designed to stop working after their ink pads became oversaturated without offering users a chance to replace the ink pads or risk putting up with ink spills. 

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Lee Mathews

Computer tech, blogger, husband, father, and avid MSI U100 user.

18 replies on “Epson pulls the plug on laser printers in the name of the environment”

  1. I will never buy an inkjet printer again. They are all garbage. I got a Brother Laser Printer, and never looked back.

  2. It has nothing to do with the environment…it’s ALL about greed.

    I will be right up front. I had to delete 4 responses to this article because I couldn’t contain my anger at this article.

    After a good night’s sleep…I’ve added Epson to my “never buy again” list and moved on.

    Any self respecting neck beard already owns the HP LaserJet anyway. My current model, the m251nw spits out about 3000 COLOR pages for 29.95.

    This is the most ridiculous article I think I’ve ever read…and I’ve been on the tech scene just as long as Torvalds.

    Epson will NEVER get another dime of my money. Period.

    Steven B.(Liquid Cool)

  3. Eh, go f* yourself Epson. Name of the environment my *ss, don’t try to greenwash this.
    When I had an inkjet printer, everytime it was the dreaded time of the year I was gonna use the damn thing it was always the same story. Problems printing, clogged ink cartridges, having to go scrambling for good prices on these overpriced anti-consumer crap, which then calls for either me driving somewhere or buying online and waiting for shipping, and then making a whole mess of ink to make the replacement because of course, the old cartridge is still full of ink, which both wastes my own money, makes the whole process cumbersome, but also spends way more energy than a laser or led printer would.
    Printers in general are a scam, but at least laser printers mostly works, perhaps because it’s a more expensive type of printer destined to end up in businesses and workplaces, so this bullshit that printer manufacturers pulls all the time for home consumers won’t fly as well. Technicians would quickly realize the crap these manufacturers are pulling and call out.
    Plenty of people have outlined several major anti-consumer measures these companies have taken on these home level inkjets. They are impossible to fix even when minor problems arise, components have been reduced to the bare minimum of functionality with the cheapest material possible used, they all have some sort of planned obsolescence crap in them such as limited count on cleaning cycles or an ink disposal tray that is nothing more than a piece of sponge… this thing about Epson multifunctionals refusing to scan when they don’t have ink is just the tip of the iceberg in those shoddy products. Look up for videos of people who disassembled printers… it puts cost reduction measures of Chinese companies to shame.
    Did you know that most of those inkjet printers have almost no sensors in them? All these supposedly smart things they do such as detecting ink levels, detecting a jam, plus other stuff is all based on either number counters or wonkiness in electrical part. Almost no sensors because some brands decided to put sensors in to detect if a cartridge is legitimate or not, and stuff like that.
    It’s all made even worse with their past decade software crap that will spit out all sorts of random errors forcing you to redo things several times.
    But that’s fine, if I’m going to buy a laser or led printer, it’s not gonna be Epson anyways. Brother has been my safest bet so far. Their software and firmware also looks straight from Windows 98 or something, but at least it works consistently.
    Office Space was right on this front… this is probably the scammiest branch of modern electronics.

  4. Ah, but where can you buy the Workforce AM series? According to their website’s “Buy Online” and “Find Dealer” options, they’re not available anywhere.

  5. I have an HP Laserjet 1020. It was handed over to me by a friend and I have no idea what the status of the parts was at the time, all I know is that it keeps printing about 8 years after I got it. I wouldn’t even know how to change anything on it. It just works.
    I also bought a couple of inkjet printers for my daughters. These things are always breaking down, they cost an arm and a leg, the drivers keep changing and they always need more ink. Sorry Epson, but Laser all the way.

  6. We’ve wasted over fifty years not developing Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors; now China is researching them.

    1. Good for them? We could just license the technology if they can make it viable.

      1. We didn’t have those fifty years to waste. It would be ignominious indeed to wait for the Chinese to follow up on the successful Molten Salt Reactor Experiment and then buy technology we should already have deployed from them.

  7. I agree with the comments, this is BS. Probably it’s about increasing the profit on printer ink cartridges.

    I never saw an Inkjet printer that didn’t end up having clogged cartridges. They dry and stop working properly -> more waste.
    Most, if not all, of them have the printing header in the cartridges -> more waste.
    Some composite cartridges that group a set of colors run out of a certain ink that will cripple the output forcing users to throw them away -> more waste.
    Energy efficiency on the printer is a reasonable concern but they ignore the energy used for the printer cartridges, waste generated and its processing.

    I personally use a Brother laser printer that never clogs. I have been using the toner it came with for years. When runs out of ink I buy it as a bottle of powder that I use to refill the toner. I’d be surprised if this happens to be worse for the environment to what Epson is proposing.

  8. What a pile of BS, this is clearly a business strategy around the profitability of ink.

    Power consumption is a really stupid reason for them to give, considering power consumption is only an environmental issue in some areas of the world. I live in a Canadian province that is served completely by hydro-electric and wind power.

    Epson’s Ecotank products don’t even seem like a good value either. The ink tanks are really expensive, and they aren’t even sold in stores at most retailers in my city. After some quick searching, it looks like I would have to order them online.

  9. I echo other’s comments, and would add; It’s ok, HP has laser printing handled fine already.

  10. I finally bought a color laser printer many years ago because of decreased printing needs. And every time I tried to print with an inkjet printer, the cartridges were at least partially clogged or leaked out, so I needed either a stock of new cartridges or I had to go to the store, and the old ones had to be discarded. For once every few months’ printing/copying, the laser printer has been perfect. I think that the environment is much better off with me having a laser printer.

    1. 100% this ^

      Maybe Epson’s claim makes sense in an office environment where the printer is churning out pages every day, but for a home user, a laser that just works when you need it and only needs new toner once every couple of years is a far better deal than any inkjet printer.

      My guess is that Epson makes more profit on ink and the energy argument is just a convenient excuse.

    2. Same here. Plus the Brother LED printer (it’s not a laser printer!) I have has better Linux driver support and available third party toner cartridges.
      I kind of wish I didn’t have to buy a whole darn printer and the few houses around mine could just share one because that’s a lot of plastic that usually just sits there.

    3. 100% agreed. I picked up a HP Color LaserJet Pro unit from work on a pretty serious discount, I’ve had it at home for about three years now and it has yet to have a single issue. It’s a bit overkill for home use but I have color when I need it and high-volume black when I need that instead. Before this I had a basic Brother monochrome laser printer that was a solid workhorse and extremely inexpensive to operate (no chips on the cartridges, so cheap generics work fine). I gave it to a family member when I got the HP and they are still using it today.

  11. Don’t inkjets produce far more plastic waste via ink cartridges? I think Epson simple want to increase profits through ink refills.

    1. Ecotank printers don’t have cartridges, they sell the ink in bottles that you just pour into the tanks. It’s actually a less dickish than what most inkjet cartridges do, in that because you can see the actual liquid ink, you know exactly how much you have. They can’t have cartridges that read empty when they’re 25% full, and you could use any third party ink as long as the liquid matched the physical properties the printer needs, so no electronic cartridge certification.
      And because the ink isn’t subsidized by cartridge prices, they charge more for it.
      If Epson wants to go all in on reducing waste, they should really discontinue the sale of cartridge printers entirely and put ink bottle refill stations in stores.

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