EB: False alarm

 

The toner cartridge industry is not unduly worried about new cargo restrictions.

 

Toner cartridges have been thrust into the media spotlight in the last week following the air cargo bomb plot.

 

Cartridges were used as shells for explosive devices that were found on US-bound UPS and FedEx planes in the UK and Dubai.

 

This has not only prompted a number of new security measures for passenger and cargo flights in and out of Yemen and Somalia, but also some direct measures against toner cartridges themselves.

 

The British government has banned toner cartridges weighing more than 500 grams from being carried in passengers’ hand luggage on flights departing from UK airports.

 

It has also prohibited the carriage of toner cartridges by air cargo into, via or from the UK unless they originate from a known consignor – a regular shipper with security arrangements approved by the Department for Transport.

 

The measures – which will be reviewed after one month – do invoke a response that includes the words ‘horse’ and ‘barn door’, but could they have an impact on the supply of toner cartridges?

 

Obviously, the hand-luggage ban – some people must carry toner cartridges in their hand-luggage, I suppose – will have no direct bearing on the industry, but even the changes to the air cargo rules do not appear to have been keeping printing industry execs awake at night.

 

In fact, two aftermarket manufacturers that we spoke to were not even aware that any changes to cargo regulations had been made at all.

 

All HP would say is that it is "fully cooperating with the authorities and has no further comment at this time".

 

Vincent van Dijk, Secretary General of the European Toner and Inkjet Remanufacturer’ Association (ETIRA) said that he did not think the new security measures would have a direct effect on the industry.

 

"We regret that cartridges were used in this way by terrorists," he told opi.net, "but we do not expect any specific ramifications for our members."

 

Lyra Research’s Peter Mayhew told opi.net that his organisation was monitoring the situation, but that it was too early to say exactly where the new security measures would lead.

 

"It’s an evolving situation," he said. "The increased screening of freight could possibly have some impact, but we need to see what further steps the authorities take."

 

There certainly seems to be a feeling that if the terrorists had not used toner cartridges for their bombs, there is a whole host of other products that they could have used – and which they could subsequently use if there are any longer-term cargo restrictions aimed specifically at toner cartridges.

 

Therefore, if new security regulations are put in place for air freight, then they will surely have to focus on the technology used and the controls that are put in place in the whole cargo screening process.

 

This does not mean that there will be no longer-term implications for shippers of toner cartridges, or other office supplies-related products for that matter.

 

In the meantime – especially with the majority of products taking sea and road routes anyway – it is most definitely a question of ‘business as usual’, for the time being at least.