The importance of recycling and remanufacturing ink cartridges.

The importance of recycling and remanufacturing ink cartridges.

, by Planet Green, 4 min reading time

It would great to see a photo of an ink cartridge that has broken down naturally with time. The problem is, there simply aren’t any photos of that. The first ink cartridge was made in 1953, just 70 short years ago and every one ever made since still exists in one form or another. They may have been ground up and recycled into another product, melted down or incinerated into dust and in some parts of the world they are even making a roadway using reclaimed ink cartridge plastic - but the truth is, it can take up to 1000 years for a single ink cartridge to thoroughly break down when buried in a landfill. Of course, this is an estimate because it’s only been 70 years, but it’s a safe estimate based on scientific fact.

The problem we have isn’t a single ink cartridge. It isn’t even 1 million of them, well, in total. The problem is a million every day, upwards of 375 million per year in the United States alone, literally more than a billion a year worldwide and they are all going into landfills. They’re getting buried where they slowly break down their toxins into the ground. They leach harmful elements from ink and toner residue, and the plastic into the earth and groundwater and literally harming the environment for generations to come.

The numbers going into U.S. landfills grow higher every day, but imagine 20 years of discarding a recyclable inkjet cartridge at the current rate. That’s seven and a half billion ink cartridges. To envision that size, it’s about the volume of 21 Empire State Buildings. That means we toss and bury roughly an Empire State Building’s worth of recyclable printer cartridges each year in the United States. But why do this instead of recycling?

In the ink cartridge marketplace, quality recyclable cartridges are manufactured by Original Equipment Manufacturers; essentially, printer makers. You recognize the names: HP, Epson, Lexmark, Brother and others. For the most part, these manufacturers offer a cartridge recycling service for their used cartridges. It helps them to reclaim those plastic tanks for recycling and reuse. In most cases it costs nothing for the consumer to properly recycle the cartridge, still so many people simply toss the cartridges into the trash after use. The realization of the global harm done by this habit isn’t often discussed, but it is evident that it needs to be discussed.

Another issue that plagues the marketplace is new built clone cartridge. Third party new built single-use cartridges manufactured to be compatible in place of genuine printer-manufacturer ink cartridges. They get used once and they don’t come with a way to recycle them. The majority of what we call ink cartridge trash is just that, third party low grade garbage. It doesn’t get recycled, and for a long list of reasons, it can’t be remanufactured and reused or reclaimed to make it into a useable ink cartridge again. It becomes part of that million cartridges per day that get dumped into U.S. landfills.

U.S. Remanufacturing is part of the solution to this growing problem. It reduces the flow of plastic entering the garbage stream and the process of remanufacturing creates jobs, reduces consumer expense and on top of that, it helps to protect the planet from further harm. It strengthens the circular economy. From purchasing recycled items to remanufacturing, the simply act of recycling and buying recycled makes all the difference in slowing the flow of ink cartridge plastics going into the waste stream.

By refusing to purchase new built clone ink cartridges, we can greatly reduce the influx of manufactured plastic waste and support a circular economy that makes, recycles, and reuses these plastics that would otherwise get thrown away. Jobs, a strengthened economy, and improved environmental health are all possible if consumers simply make a choice to support remanufacturer products and recycle their ink cartridges as they should. Recycle and buy recycled products to stop the flow of waste - it really is that easy. The consumer doesn’t have to look to the big corporations to be the answer - it’s literally in the consumers hands to make the change. If consumers buy U.S. Remanufactured ink cartridges, they help reduce the demand for new plastics from going into the waste stream and they provide U.S. jobs while saving money themselves. It’s a win, win, win.

Visit, one of last U.S. Ink Cartridge Remanufacturers, to learn more about recycling ink cartridges directly from your home or office with absolutely no expense to you. In fact, your organization, school, sports team, church or charity can raise funds with the Planet Green Recycle ink cartridge fundraising program. By simply asking your network of associates to recycle their empty ink cartridges using Planet Green Recycle prepaid shipping labels, you’ll get paid for those ink cartridge submissions. The program is free and there are no obligations.


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