This is a guest post by James Adams. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Ink and toner cartridges for printers inevitably wind up empty at some point. Whether it’s the first or the fiftieth time you’ve had to replace your cartridges, it’s important to know what your disposal options are. Tossing the spent cartridge in the trash may seem like the easiest way to get rid of it, but it is also the most environmentally damaging. The plastic casing will just sit in a landfill while the chemicals from the ink leech out into the ground. Fortunately, there are many other, more eco-friendly, options available.
Recycle for Charity
The saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure can be true in the case of your empty ink and toner cartridges. There are many websites and organisations that can take your old cartridges and turn them into money for charities.
- Recycle4Charity is a US-based recycling program that collects empty ink and toner cartridges and makes a cash donation to charity per qualified cartridge. All shipping expenses are covered by prepaid shipping labels.
- Recycling Appeal is based in the UK for both individuals and businesses that allows you to choose from a number of open “appeals” when recycling your cartridges. Or start an appeal of your own if the charity you wish to donate to isn’t listed.
You may also be able to recycle your ink and toner cartridges locally. Check with schools, stores, and nearby charitable organisations to find out if they have their own cartridge recycling programs.
Recycle for Cash
Ink and toner are expensive, especially for high-end laser printers and all-in-one units. Why not turn your empty cartridges into cash? Several recycling services exist that will pay you to send them your empties.
- FreeRecycling.com will pay for over 150 types of ink and toner cartridges. Local pickup is free, and they also offer free shipping boxes for non-local shipments. Large shipments are accepted.
- eCycle Group is a good solution for when you have multiple ink and toner cartridges to get rid of. They pay for shipping as long as you meet their minimums and offer competitive pricing on a variety of cartridge brands.
Some electronics and office supply stores offer recycling for cash, as well. The payment often comes in the form of a discount on future ink purchases or credit toward other purchases made in-store. Visit retailer websites or call local locations to find out which places in your area offer these programs.
Recycle at Work
Take a moment to think about all the waste generated at your workplace. Offices, schools, and other institutions that print a lot of documents or send a lot of mail use hundreds of ink and toner cartridges. Instead of throwing them all away when they’re no longer useful, consider starting a workplace recycling program if there isn’t one already. Gathering up used cartridges and recycling them could save an enormous amount of waste every year. Send them somewhere local or choose an online recycling program that accepts bulk shipments.
Refill & Reuse Your Cartridges
If it’s possible to refill the type of cartridges used in your printer, this can be the most economical choice. Refilling ink cartridges takes a little time, but is worth the effort. Check online for refill kits for your brand of cartridge. This can be a messy process, so before trying it for the first time, you may wish to visit websites like RefillInstructions and Printer Toner Warehouse, which offer instructions on how to safety refill a variety of cartridges. Make sure to print a test page or two once you’re done refilling to check that everything is in working order.
Return to Manufacturer
If you can’t find a viable way to recycle your empty cartridges, you may be able to return them to the manufacturer. Contact the makers of your cartridges and ask about disposal. If the company is indeed willing to take the cartridges back, make sure that they will either recycle the cartridges or reuse them. Some companies may simply dispose of used cartridges, which would defeat the purpose when trying to be environmentally conscious. But if you’re comfortable with their disposal methods, go ahead and send your empties.
It only takes a little extra effort to recycle or reuse empty inkjet and toner cartridges. This small time investment is a win-win situation, as it can have a big impact on both the environment and your budget.