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In one year, if the world’s discarded cartridges were stacked end-to-end, they would circle the earth over three times. The truth is, you don’t have to throw out your expensive printer cartridges because most printer cartridges can be remanufactured or refilled multiple times.
In fact, the manufacturer Lexmark released findings of a Life Cycle Assessment that looked into the environmental impact of discarded toner cartridges. The study found that sending a used toner cartridge back to Lexmark for recycling, as opposed to throwing it away, reduces the overall carbon footprint of that cartridge by up to 60%.
This post will take you through your options to recycle print cartridges, from refilling or fundraising with them, to buying remanufactured to close the recycling loop and mailing them off.
Where To Refill Cartridges
Cartridge World locations are easy to find. Depending on the cartridge, you don’t even have to wait to get your empty one refilled, you just trade it in and receive a refilled cartridge of the same style.
According to their website, it takes about a gallon of oil to make a new laser cartridge, and almost 8 cartridges are thrown away per second in the United States alone! Also, every remanufactured cartridge saves nearly 3-1/2 pounds of solid waste from being deposited in landfills. If 70% of used printer cartridges throughout the world are currently being thrown out, do your part to reduce this number. If you get cartridges refilled here, you shouldn’t notice any change in quality. Their services include a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Check them out!
- Another term associated with recycling printer cartridges is recharging. It may sounded like something that should only be for a battery, so check out this handy site if you are interested in learning more about that process.
- Inkjet Printer Cartridges are refilled at participating Walgreens stores by taking them to the photo counter.
- Office Depot tested an ink refill service a few years ago at some stores, but has not expanded this service to all locations. You can purchase a refill ink kit to refill cartridges at home but I have not tried this. Let us know if anyone’s had any experiences with the refilling process.
- Here’s a link to recycling programs for Lexmark cartridges.
Freerecycling.com is one site where you can send in ink jet cartridges for cash. Remember that it depends on the quantity of cartridges. You need to mail in 20 or more empty ink cartridges to qualify for their free shipping label. That’s right- they pay for you to ship them your old cartridges. They do not accept laser toner cartridges.
Cartridges sent to Freerecycling.com are recycled at their facility located here in the U.S., in Orange, California, and they are a California State Certified Collector. Remember that when choosing a recycler, there are important questions you should ask.
Buy Remanufactured Cartridges
Fun fact: 80% less energy is required to remanufacture cartridges instead of creating new ones. Remanufactured cartridges are available after a process of collecting, sorting, dismantling, cleaning, refilling and repackaging them for sale. They are filled with new ink and toner so you can print with ease. The Green Office has a unique rating system that rates products from conventional to dark green and is one place you can order remanufactured cartridges.
Mail Your Cartridges For Recycling
HP recycles their own HP original print cartridges. Their recycling process is designed for empty, original HP print cartridges only and they are not equipped to handle other cartridge brands. HP’s recycling program provides paid UPS shipping labels for their laser toner cartridges, for example, making recycling incredibly easily.
The United States Postal Service provides free prepaid mail-back envelopes for recycling inkjet cartridges. In select Post Offices, customers can get free mail-back envelopes for recycling not only inkjet cartridges, but also cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and other small electronics. Check with your local Post Office branch to see if they carry these envelopes.
Now get out there and INKrease your recycling!