I was reading some facts about printer cartridge disposal today, and it got me thinking about how we can all do more to help the environment and our own pockets with a little bit extra effort to either refill or recycle our laser or ink printer cartridges.
Most cartridges can be re-used
Apparently, almost all inkjet and laser cartridges can either be reused or re-manufactured. And let’s face it; today just about everyone in the modern world uses some sort of printer both at home and in the workplace. Every year, millions of empty printer cartridges are needlessly thrown away into landfill sites.
Here are some very good reasons why
(it is so important to refill (and not landfill) your empty printer cartridges)
- In 2008, 1.9 billion printer cartridges were used worldwide.
- If stacked end-to-end, all of the printer cartridges used in 2008 would measure 224,000 km. That is more than 5 and half times around the world.
- Over 375 million empty toner and ink cartridges are thrown away in the US alone. This mountain of waste could be reduced through reuse and recycling. Yet some 70% of all ink cartridges and 50% of all toner cartridges are still not recycled by the American public.
- In the UK only 15% of the 60 million printer cartridges sold annually are recycled so the Brits have an even more dismal record!
- Laser printer cartridges account for over 90% of all throw-away cartridges.
- A laser cartridge thrown into landfill can take anything from 450 to 1000 years to decompose because they are made from an engineering grade polymer. In addition, ink can leak and pollute the surrounding environment. Discarded cartridges release toxins and hazardous waste materials into the environment over the decades to follow.
- Every re-manufactured cartridge is one less cartridge gong to landfill – and that is a choice you can feel proud of - plus as we pay taxes for landfills, there will be a saving of tax dollars too.
- By recycling printer cartridges, we also conserve natural resources and energy by reducing the need for virgin materials as well as supporting a local economy. Around 2 liters of oil are used in the manufacturing process of one single laser printer cartridge. Recycling also conserves steel and aluminium which are two other resources included in the manufacture of printer cartridges. The re-manufacturing business employs thousands of people spread out over smaller and locally owned companies. This local economy would grow if more of us started to recycle printer cartridges.
- A printer cartridge can be refilled up to 15 times before reaching the end of its useful life. A laser cartridge can be refilled indefinitely - it just goes on and on.
If you feel adventuresome, you can even learn to refill your own cartridges. The refill process takes a little time and effort the first time around, and the instructions may seem cumbersome, but after you have the first refill under your belt, you will feel like a pro and you will have learnt a new skill. Cartridge refills are available from computer hardware stores and online. It is important to ensure that you have the correct product to match your empty cartridge. Manufacturers and retail outlets will help you find the right one.
Encourage those responsible at work for "supplies" to use a company who will come and take away the empty cartridges and replace with newly refilled recycled ones to take their place.
Remember that the carbon footprint of a re-manufactured cartridge is approximately 50% lower than that for a new cartridge.