In the U.S., more than 13 cartridges are disposed of every second, totaling an estimated 375 million each year. The total weight of these cartridges is equivalent to 67,612 Ford Explorers or 112,463 Volkswagen Beetles.
Referring to documents from Alameda County, California, the typical used toner cartridge weighs about 3 pounds. It is composed of of 40% plastic and 40% metal. Smaller percentages of rubber, paper, foam, and toner make up the last 20%. The plastic is made of engineering-grade polymers and takes at least 1,000 years to decompose. The average cartridge requires almost a gallon of oil during production.
However, approximately 97% of these combined components can be recycled and reused. How do people recycle ink cartridges or toner?Manufacturers of remanufactured ink and toner cartridges would collect the used cartridges, dismantle, clean and refill the ink or toner. (Read more about printer ink and toner cartridges). In general, the remanufactured cartridges can be recycled and reused for several times. By doing so, it actually reduces pollution by conserving resources and energy. It takes about 80 percent less energy to remanufacture the cartridge plastic than to produce it from new materials. Also, remanufactured laser cartridges use about half the amount of oil needed to make new cartridges. The process to recycle ink cartridges and toner also saves more than 38,000 tons of plastic and metal from landfills.
At the end of the life span of a used cartridge, a closed loop recycling process would involve separation of the material, shedding and grinding of the plastic and re-use the ground plastic to create other plastic products such as clothes hangers and spools.
The best way to recycle ink cartridges
- Some companies offer to buy back used cartridges which they will resell to remanufacturers. Recycle your cartridges and contribute to the materials used to produce remanufactured cartridges.
- There are e-waste drop-off sites such as Staples, Office Depot and Target for consumers to drop off used cartridges, and many more can be found here.
- Local office supply stores often offer incentives to recycle cartridges. They may trade you cash or paper for old cartridges. You can also check to see if a local school is collecting used cartridges for a fundraiser.
- You can host your own fundraiser. There are many organizations that support inkjet cartridge collection fundraisers. Examples are listed here.
- CURE Recycling donates the funds raised by cartridge collection to fund cancer research.
- Funding Factory will help raise money for your school or organization when you collect printer cartridges.
Inkjet Star, Inc. is your reliable online supplier of quality replacement ink and toner for Brother, HP, Samsung, Lexmark, Xerox, Canon, Dell, Epson and Kodak printers. Go to Ink Blog archives to see all of our blog articles.