HP uses the large plastic packaging containers at our retailer's insistence. The reason they have requested that such packaging be used is for ease of display, as well as a theft-deterrent.
HP commits to delivering Inkjet print cartridges that work right out of the package. Print cartridges are complex systems of electrical circuits, mechanical parts, and highly specialised inks. These different system elements need to be protected in different ways, so they get to you in a fully functional state when they reach the customer. This is why Inkjet cartridge packaging has so many layers.
The four major components of the packaging are:
Paperboard boxes and sleeves -provide the common looks and display for our ink supplies/products, shoplifting protection, as well as protection for products accidentally dropped, shaken, tossed, fallen off a forklift, etc.
Pouches allow HP Inkjet cartridges to have a shelf life of at least 18 months from the time of manufacture and shipping. They protect the ink from absorbing air, which can cause bubbles which block the jets, and limit the evaporation of water over time, which can lead to clogs or other print problems.
Plastic trays inside the pouch - in the event that the shipping carton or individual package is dropped, the tray protects the electrical circuits and Inkjet printhead, which contains the jets or nozzles, and it protects the seams and corners of the cartridge from cracking due to shock. Without a tray, dropping a cartridge or a carton of cartridges would much more likely result in damage to the printhead, resulting in a failure to print or poor print quality, or result in cracks in the plastic seams, causing leaks from the cartridge.
Inserts - contain important information regarding correct installation, use, customer notices and new or additional offers from HP, often including a freepost returns envelope to faciliate recycling.
The paperboard and inserts used in HP Inkjet cartridge packaging can be recycled in most municipal recycling programs where recycling programs exist. The polystyrene trays, which protect the printheads from being damaged when dropped, can only be recycled where special polystyrene recycling programs exist. The pouches are a composite of several materials, which provide a vapor barrier to keep the ink from drying out, and cannot be recycled.