6 Things to Know About Recycling Printer Cartridges


It’s 2018, and think of all the electronic items in a typical home these days. A printer/scanner/fax, desktops, laptops, a drawer full of old cell iPads, cell phones and chargers, video game consoles—the list can be virtually endless!

And what eventually happens to all those old electronics when they’re discarded? Roughly half of the 500 million ink and toner cartridges sold each year in America will eventually end up in a landfill, but the other half are now being recycled.

E-waste programs have begun popping up across the globe, and used electronics are being broken down and recycled like never before.

Here are six things you may not know about recycling ink and toner cartridges:

1. Don’t just toss your used ink cartridges away—it could kill you!

The Huffington Post reports that used cartridges may pose a serious health risk, as chemicals used to make printer ink and toner have been found to increase the risk of cancer. We already know that half of all ink cartridges never get recycled, which leaves a quarter of a billion cartridges being stuffed into landfills each year in America alone, so recycling your cartridges instead of simply throwing them away will slow the spread of landfills and, yeah, keep you healthier.

2. E-Waste programs exist to take your used ink cartridges.

Brother and other large companies have recycling programs that operate by mail, and some only accept their company’s brand of cartridges. You can always find a local E-Waste drive in your area, too, by checking the local newspaper or social media feeds. Most E-Waste events are free-of-charge but you won’t have the benefit of receiving any cash back like you would if you recycle your cartridges with a for-profit program.

3. Canon is a world leader in collecting and recycling printer ink cartridges.

According to the Boston Globe, Canon has collected nearly 400,000 tons of used cartridges since 1990, and reuses virtually every component in the cartridges, including iron, copper, aluminum, and plastic. Brother, HP and other huge companies also have programs in place to collect and recycle used cartridges.

4. You can drop used cartridges off at your local office supply store.

Make sure to check ahead to see if your local office supply store has a program in place to recycle ink and toner cartridges. Most do, so you shouldn’t have too difficult a time finding one. Office Depot will only recycle 10 cartridges per month per customer, so be prepared. For mass recycling, a program that allows you to ship large numbers of cartridges may be your best option.

5. Each cartridge you recycle earns you money!

If environmentalism wasn’t a good enough reason to recycle your used ink cartridges, then how about money? Office Depot’s program offers $2 per cartridge while others such as eCycle offer anywhere from .23 cents to $9, and allow you to donate that money to a charitable cause instead of a simple cash payout. When you save up your cans and bottles and drag them all to the recycling facility, you get a refund, and it works the exact same way with e-waste.

6. You can refill your original ink cartridges and skip the recycling altogether!

Pick up a refill kit that comes with a bottle of new ink, a syringe, a small screwdriver, a set of plastic safety gloves and a set of instructions. Simply refill the cartridge following the instructions and you have a brand new ink cartridge, no recycling required. Why buy a brand new cartridge when you can simply re-use the original cartridge, right?

With such a wide variety of eco-friendly ways to recycle your ink and toner cartridges, recycling should easily become a simple routine. By making a concerted effort to properly dispose of our used ink and toner cartridges, we can reduce the amount of waste in landfills and reduce our carbon footprint immensely!