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Remanufactured vs. refurbished printers: what’s the difference and why does it matter?


Lots of hardware vendors talk about remanufactured and refurbished, but what's the difference?

Time: 5 minute read
Maximizing budgets, optimizing technology spend and reducing environmental impact are top of mind for most businesses today. For IT and procurement leaders, these and many other factors weigh into the decision-making process for selecting the best software, solutions and outsourcing partners that align with key business goals. 
We’ve found that more and more of our clients are putting increased focus on their Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) priorities as they make choices about the vendors and partners with whom to align their operations. In fact, 74% of procurement leaders take sustainability performance into consideration when selecting new suppliers.1
We continue to expand our digital services offerings and extend into our clients’ business operations, supporting a wide array of software automation and business process optimization goals. We’re also proud of our long history that started in hardware technology.

Within that space, we are continuously focused on both increasing the lifespan of our hardware while building greater functionality to digitize, automate and scale for our customers’ needs while supporting their bottom line.



One of the ways some organizations have embraced a greater focus on sustainability is by using remanufactured (and sometimes refurbished) office equipment and other hardware within their operations.

After all, reusing equipment always sounds like a smart environmental concept in theory. However, sometimes terms like “refurbished” and “remanufactured” get thrown around in business conversations with very little definition attached. 

In this article, we explore what these terms mean, the fundamental differences between refurbished and remanufactured digital imaging equipment, and why distinguishing between the two is crucial in making the right decisions for both your business operations and protecting the environment.

The difference between remanufactured and refurbished

Lots of hardware vendors talk about remanufactured and refurbished products today, but the terms can be confusing to the unacquainted — particularly since definitions have been loose, subjective, and ripe for interpretation. 
Remanufactured: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines remanufactured imaging equipment as a “product that meets one of the product types defined in Section 1.A 1-8, which has been returned to a 'like-new' state of the base model, including energy performance, by the manufacturer, utilizing new and/or reused components from the original equipment manufacturer."2
Refurbished: Refurbishment can mean a lot of different things, with no standardized definition yet to be established by any authoritative body. Refurbished equipment may include unused customer returns, unwanted items donated to a business or charity, or returned products still under their warranty.
Unlike most refurbished equipment, remanufactured devices follow stringent guidelines of quality control and standardization. During this process, repairs or replacements are made to worn out or obsolete components and modules, allowing the device to be rebuilt to the standards of a new machine. This is a complete process where a technological device is restored to its original condition and meets manufacturing requirements and customer expectations the same way a new device does.
When remanufacturing, a combination of parts may be used, including reused, repaired, or brand-new elements. During this process, the engineer will use the same specifications as when originally manufactured — and the warranties on these devices will match those of a brand-new product. 
On the other hand, the process of refurbishment can range from a thorough check of the product for defects to a full cleanup and rebuild of the product. Products are then tested for functionality and defects before being resold. Ultimately, refurbished devices are restored much less expensively than those which are remanufactured. Additionally, the warranties on refurbished devices are subject to the seller’s definitions — and can range anywhere from being equal to that of a new product to being non-existent.



The use of fewer raw materials, less energy consumption, and reduction of waste allows for significant cost savings for both the remanufacturer and the consumer. Most importantly, remanufacturing supports approximately 180,000 full-time jobs in the United States, and more than 450,000 jobs world-wide.

Two engineers working

How remanufacturing impacts the environment 

The remanufacturing process gives each product a new lifecycle while saving hundreds of steps it would take to create the same product from scratch. As raw materials become scarcer and more expensive, remanufacturing conserves natural resources by reducing the amount of mining, transportation, and processing.

Remanufacturing is an efficient process that reduces waste and expenditure on materials and energy.
The use of fewer raw materials, less energy consumption, and reduction of waste allows for significant cost savings for both the remanufacturer and the consumer. Most importantly, remanufacturing supports approximately 180,000 full-time jobs in the United States, and more than 450,000 jobs worldwide.3

Leading the way to responsible remanufacturing and global sustainability

At Ricoh, we’re passionate about remanufacturing — and we’re doing the work to back it up. In 2022, after two decades of partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and work lobbying for the inclusion of remanufactured print devices to qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, our GreenLine Series of multifunction print devices became the first-ever remanufactured digital imaging equipment to qualify for certification. 
The GreenLine series of remanufactured devices delivers like-new, reliable performance at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new equipment. Ricoh GreenLine devices go through our rigorous remanufacturing process that follows strict ISO 9001:2008 requirements with devices being certified, tested, and updated with the latest software and firmware versions.4
Even before it can be remanufactured, each piece of equipment must meet strict eligibility criteria. This process includes disassembly and cleaning of parts, followed by rebuilding and retesting. Finally, the devices are put through rigorous quality control testing, which is all completed by our world-class certified technicians. 
This diligent remanufacturing process also supports our commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through the effective utilization of resources, we directly contribute to the Circular Economy and the SDGs of Climate Action and Responsible Consumption & Production.5
The GreenLine series provides a cost-efficient, eco-friendly solution that contributes to everyone’s bottom line — without sacrificing quality of service. Better yet, all GreenLine remanufactured devices come with the standard Ricoh warranty, are guaranteed the same level of support as our new products, and are designed to perform like new.

Making the right choice for your business

The difference between remanufactured and refurbished digital imaging equipment may seem subtle at first — but the nuances can have a big impact on the quality of your equipment, the value of your warranty, the impact on the environment and the overall cost of doing business. While we believe that an ENERGY STAR certified remanufactured device is of superior quality and value, not every business situation allows for the purchase of reusable equipment.

For example, many schools, churches and other non-profits gain tremendous value from purchasing remanufactured printers. But an organization within a highly regulated industry with very strict procurement guidelines may be required to purchase new equipment every time, without exception. 

Not sure which type of equipment is right for your business? Learn more about our GreenLine remanufactured devices or contact us any time with your questions.

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