Taking the Questions out of Ink Cartridge Recycling

Taking the Questions out of Ink Cartridge Recycling

, by Planet Green, 4 min reading time

Ink cartridges are a common office and household item, but what happens to them after they run out of ink? Tossing those empties into the trash does more damage than just taking up a couple of inches of space in a landfill.

To start, more than a million empty ink cartridges go into landfills every day in the United States; it’s a lot more than a couple inches of space. They take upwards of 1000 years to break down and while they do, they leech toxins into the environment. What’s worse, by simply tossing them into a recycling bin, you contaminate the other items in that bin with leaking ink and toner. Whatever that ink touches, even the smallest drop, also gets rejected by recycling sorters and it too goes into the landfill, increasing the amount of waste and pollution being buried. Plastics, paper and aluminum that would otherwise be recycled now becomes trash.

Many people are unaware of the importance of recycling ink cartridges and how easy it can be to do so. Let’s demystify ink cartridge recycling and share a step-by-step guide to help recycle ink cartridges responsibly and sustainably.

Step 1: Check Compatibility

Before recycling your ink cartridges, it's essential to check if they are compatible with recycling programs. Most ink cartridges from major brands are recyclable, but it's always a good idea to confirm. Some retailers and manufacturers offer specific recycling programs for their cartridges, while others accept cartridges from any brand. Either way, it’s important that those ink cartridges do not make it to the curb on trash day. Once they do, it’s into the landfill.

Step 2: Empty the Cartridge

If your ink cartridge still has some ink remaining, it's best to use it up before recycling. Printing a few test pages or running a cleaning cycle can help ensure that the cartridge is as empty as your machine can get it. This helps reduce the potential of further leaking after removing it from the printer.

Step 3: Remove from Printer

Once the cartridge is empty, carefully remove it from your printer following the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to handle the cartridge gently to avoid damaging it or spreading ink onto other surfaces, your clothes and even your hands. Wearing gloves can help.

Step 4: Protect the Cartridge

To prevent leakage and damage during transportation, place the ink cartridge in a plastic bag or protective packaging. Many OEM manufacturers include an envelope of some kind just for this purpose along with their printers.

Step 5: Find a Recycling Program

There are options for recycling ink cartridges. The most prominent is Planet Green Recycle, who in turn supports organization fundraisers with each cartridge submission. Also, many office supply stores, electronics retailers, and printer manufacturers offer recycling programs for ink cartridges. You can also search for local recycling centers that accept ink cartridges.

Step 6: Prepare for Shipping

If you're mailing your ink cartridges to a recycling program, ensure that they are securely packaged to prevent damage or leaking in transit. Follow any specific instructions provided by the recycling program, such as using prepaid shipping labels or including a return authorization form. Planet Green Recycle will provide a shipping label free to send in your empty and unwanted inks.

Step 7: Drop Off or Ship

Once your ink cartridges are packaged and ready to go, mail them or drop them off at a designated collection point. With Planet Green Recycle, it’s as easy as just dropping them in the mail.

Step 8: Track Your Impact

Many recycling programs provide tracking or reporting tools that allow you to monitor the environmental impact of your recycling efforts. Whether you do or don’t, just know that every cartridge makes an impact on our environment, and every recycled ink cartridge makes a positive impact. Recycling and opting to buy recycled, whether in the form of surplus stock or remanufactured products benefits the environment by sparing resources, reducing energy expense and for you as the consumer, it saves you money.

Recycling and buying recycled ink cartridges is a simple yet impactful way to reduce waste and conserve resources. By following this guide, you can take the questions out of the process of ink cartridge recycling and make a positive contribution to environmental sustainability. Remember, every cartridge recycled helps preserve natural resources and protect the planet for future generations.


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