Each year in North America, 40,000 tons of plastic and metal are saved from lying hundreds of years in landfills due to the recycling of ink and toner cartridges. That number amounts to the amount of four Eiffel Towers, per year! Unfortunately, if the world’s discarded cartridges each year were stacked end-to-end, they would circle the planet over three times!
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Did you know?
- Nearly 8 cartridges are thrown away every second in the US.
- A laser cartridge can take up to 450 years to decompose in a landfill - and some components take over 1,000 years.
- It takes an entire gallon of oil to make one laser cartridge.
- Only 30% of inkjet cartridges are recycled each year.
- On average, cartridges can be reused up to 15 times.
You want to do your part, so you are searching how to properly recycle toner cartridges so that you and your company can help in protecting the environment. The process is not as cumbersome as some companies might lead you to believe. In fact, some retail chains will scare you into believing that the only logical way to recycle your cartridges is through them.
How to Recycle Toner Cartridges and Ink Cartridges
Unfortunately, you cannot simply recycle ink cartridges of any type in your normal recycling because they are considered electronics. If your time is too valuable to waste traveling to a retail store each time you want to recycle, there are some in-house solutions. The most common solution is to purchase an ink cartridge recycling bin, and have it picked up regularly by an electronics recycling company. In most metro areas, recycling companies will come and pick-up the recyclables for you, free of charge.
The reason retail chains push for you to recycle through them is to save themselves money while being “green” in the process. They may lose $2 to recycle your ink cartridge, but they are saving the cost of creating one from scratch. In fact, you have probably purchased a refurbished ink cartridge from them without even realizing it. They simply clean it up, put new labeling on it, and refill it. Does this help the environment? Of course! But these companies have limits to the amount they are willing to buy back from you. Not because they are incapable of recycling unlimited quantities, but because their consumer’s needs do not match an unlimited demand of cartridges to be sold.
If you manage the copier in your office, chances are you are familiar with the concept of toner cartridges. Toner cartridges (unlike ink cartridges) use toner to create the images you are printing. Toner is a fine powder, created by the mixing of plastic particles, carbon, and coloring agents that make the actual image on the paper. Like most plastics, it will not biodegrade for hundreds of years. So, what can be done?
Most large manufacturers and the dealers that sell their products have recycling programs that make being environmentally responsible, simple. Some have shipping labels that you can print and send empty cartridges back to them, and some have collection bins that can be picked-up, once full. This takes the responsibility away from you, while allowing your business to be more environmentally conscious.
BUT... did you know that you can recycle toner bottles with your regular recycling? In terms of going green, copiers have an advantage over printers in this regard. Simply take out your toner bottle and place it in your normal recycling bin. Keep in mind, this is only an option for the toner bottle, and not for other components of a copier.
If you decide to chuck either cartridge type in the garbage, they are both bad for the environment. Each type can also be recycled, so one is not necessarily more environmentally friendly than the other. If your conscience is driving some of your decision making, this is an area where there isn’t a “wrong” choice. You just decide if you prefer to take cartridges back to the store yourself, or if you would like to ship them off (or have them picked-up), often at no additional cost to you.
Posted by SOS Can Help
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