Wednesday, November 3, 2010

UPS suspends toner cartridge shipments to and from the UK

According to UPS, "the carriage of toner cartridges heavier than 500g/17.5 oz by air has been suspended into and from the UK... This restriction has been imposed for an initial 30 day period effective midnight of 1 November 2010. For the avoidance of doubt, this restriction also applies to equipment containing a toner cartridge." Toner cartridges are typically always larger than 500grams (see pics / sizes of toner cartridges here). Ink cartridges are typically always smaller than 500grams (see pics of inkjet cartridges here)

This was in response to failed bomb attempts using modified toner cartridges for 2 parcels that originated in Yemen and Dubai. The UK is the only country so far to place restrictions on the transport of toner cartridges. This may give a local boost to UK based toner cartridge manufacturers allowing them to regain some market share within the UK, which like most western markets has seen significant growth in printer consumable (inkjet and laser toner cartridge) consumption that has benefited eastern manufacturing countries that export lower cost cartridges. It will hurt exports of toner cartridges from the UK in the short term. But safety comes first.

Some news media outlets have reported that the toner cartridge could have been from Brother, HP or other manufacturers. Foxnews for example, ran a report in which they interviewed an executive of Clover Technologies Group, a toner cartridge remanufacturing company, who was quoted in the report as saying that the cartridge "looked like a model originally made by Brother or HP." The same report went on to say that representatives from the major printer manufacturers -- including Hewlett Packard, Canon, and Epson -- had so far declined to speculate on the device.

Although not many photos have been provided in the media, the photo below which was posted at, suggests that it is most likely not a Brother brand toner cartridge, but most likely an HP or Canon monochrome laser toner cartridge (Canon also makes the engines for most of HP's toner cartridges, so the distinction between the two is often subtle). The reason why Brother is ruled out as a likely candidate is because the cartridge in the photo clearly shows an OPC drum, which is not found on Brother monochrome toner cartridges (and the cartridge appears to be for a monochrome printer). Brother puts their drums (OPC drums) onto separate cartridge units that they call "drum cartridges". In the case of HP and Canon however, the drum is part of the main cartridge on monochrome models, and so this photo is highly suggestive that the cartridge used was an HP or Canon equivalent (at least based on the limited photo presented by CBS below). It is also difficult to tell if this is an original brand cartridge, or an aftermarket (remanufactured / compatible toner cartridge) based on this photo alone.
Photo from


  1. As of today, the US aviation authority - the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) - has banned the shipment of large ink and toner cartridges aboard overseas flights bound for the U.S. This is part of a United States Homeland Security directive in response to the bombs that were hidden in laser toner cartridges aboard two airplanes in late October. A statement from the TSA read as follows: "Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States."

  2. All toner cartridges larger than 500g (17.5 oz) have been banned from hand luggage in UK airports, as well from all air cargo to, from or via the UK unless it originates from a known consignor.

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