Posted on April 26, 2019
Hypothetically, had Brother’s Wrexham, U.K., typewriter plant still been around at the time of Brexit (23rd June 2016), and then switched production to a more EU-friendly country (France or Germany say) they would have been entitled to exhaust their supply of EU stickers and “Ecolabels” …
This grey-beige Wrexham-made Brother AX-440 portable electronic typewriter, with German keyboard, is in fact a green machine.
But not as “green”, obviously, as this greenish-blue Brother AX-210 with Öko model number suffix (öko translates from German to “eco” which is the short form of “ecology” (Ökologie) ) …
What struck me about this German eBay typewriter listing (apart from the high price tag that coloured plastic entails) was a glimpse of the ribbon cassette inside it.
Brother (and most Panasonic) portable electronic typewriters normally take a ribbon cassette like this …
This struck me as something different …
It might just be the base plate that the ribbon cassette sits on, however my first thought was that this was a refillable, re-usable ribbon cassette in keeping with the Öko concept – or at least, a single-use ribbon cassette with re-usable parts.
That’d be a real plus point. But what, you may ask, on God’s green earth, is the point of an Ecolabel?
Well, it seems the point of an “eco-typewriter” is that it should be assembled in such a way as to be easily dis-assembled for later re-use or recycling.
To this end, Brother have adopted “the 5Rs” (a few seem R for Repetitive and R for Redundant) as a basis for their environmental activities:
- REDUCE waste material by recycling
- REUSE products and waste material
- REFUSE to buy environmentally unfriendly products
- REFORM materials and use again
- RECYCLE rather than scrap
In Europe, for example, Brother has a portal site for recycling consumables and products (electronic typewriters included) and provides information about how to return used toner cartridges, drum units, ink cartridges and products; and how to ask for collection boxes, etc. which are available in a total of 28 countries.
The problem is, any recycling program is only as good as the consumers who sign up for it, but kudos to Brother for taking responsibility for their own waste. Was this a regulatory measure forced upon them by the EU, or simply clever marketing on Brother’s part? A bit of both.
Hopefully, it’ll be a while before this “Öko” AX-440 meets its maker. Of course, that will only happen should this typewriter make it as far as a Brother recycling collection point in Wrexham, Wales.
It made it as far as Perth, Western Australia from Oldenburg, Germany, so anything’s possible.
P.S. A plug adapter is all that’s required to run this 230 volts machine in Australia. 220 Volt appliances were standard throughout Europe, while 240 volt appliances are standard in the UK. With the establishment of the EU, 230 volt appliances were introduced as a compromise.
In 1983, Australia committed to a 20 year plan to convert to a nominal specification of 230 volts to align with European standards. While the supply voltage did not change, the tolerance specification became 230 volts +10/-6%. Effectively, this moved the upper limit down to 253 volts, but left the lower limit unchanged at 216.2 volts. Information taken from: