Consumer Technology

Published on April 17th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Recycle Your Printer Cartridges! Shift The Norm

April 17th, 2014 by  

Taking a step away from all of the world-changing market disruption from solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars, I think it’s important once in awhile for us to promote some more mundane but still important green technologies and activities. Countless printer cartridges run out every day. Unfortunately, a ton of people take the old ones out and toss them in the garbage. Not cool.

To help combat that problem, a printer cartridge company recently passed along some useful info on recycling printer cartridges. According to the image below, 23.3 million printer cartridges are consumed annually in Australia alone. Approximately 75% of those used printer cartridges end up in landfill — a shocking statistic as it can take anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years for these to decompose. Without proper education on the correct method of disposing of used printer cartridges, many households and businesses may assume they can be recycled via standard means of recycling other household and business waste — via the recycle bins provided. This is not the case, however, and the only proper way of recycling printer cartridges is to send them to the appropriate recycling centres.

One such organisation aimed at spreading awareness of how to properly recycle printer cartridges is Cartridges Direct, which says it created the graphic below in order to educate people on not only how to properly recycle their used cartridges, but also the possible detrimental effects of these cartridges ending up as landfill. Check it out:

printer cartridges

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Don’t replace your ink cartridge if it doesn’t need it. The Brother HL-2040 laser printer says it is out of toner after it prints a set number of pages, but if you cover the sensors on the side of the cartridge with masking tape you are set to print hundreds of more sheets. You’ll have to find your own hacks for other models though. I don’t appreciate the built in obselescence.

    Here’s a youtube video on how to do it:

  • Wayne Williamson

    Sorry, this should be pushed back to the manufactures. They’re the ones that decided to basically give you a printer and sell you a cartridge that last about a week;-)
    Its why I prefer a black and white laser printer. At least you can get several thousand pages from them. Meaning 6 months to several years depending on use. Also seems like every time it says it needs to be replaced, you can take it out and shake it some and every thing is good for a couple more months;-)

    • Bob_Wallace

      And you can refill that B&W laser cartridge about three times (the one I have). Cheap and easy.

      I print so infrequently that my ink cartridges dried long before I used them up. Sometimes I could clean them up with acetone, but often not. With the laser, as you say, just take out the cartridge, shake it a bit to loosen up the toner, and you’re ready to go.

      • Otis11

        Why does no one use refillable ink for ink-jets? My printer goes through exactly 2 ink cartridges over it’s life – the one it came with, and the refillable one.

        I highly recommend Brother Printers and these:

        (Feel free to remove if the link is overstepping it – no association, simply found it works incredibly well)

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’ve refilled a lot of ink cartridges. That worked OK for me most of the time until the last few years when I just stopped printing very much.

          I literally go months without printing anything. I’m pretty paperless these days. I make notes on the back of envelopes and scrap paper, everything else is on the screen.

          The last inkjet I had I found I could keep going by taking out the cartridges and putting them in ziplock bags (squeezing out the air). That worked for a while, but eventually the cartridge would clog/dry.

          And then there were the chipped cartridges. (Yes, there probably were work-arounds on the web but there’s only so much hacking one wants to have to do.)

          I’ve now had a Samsung B&W laser printer for a few years. Takes a minute or so to shake up the toner if the printer has been sitting for a long time.

          (Actually I’m hoping the damn thing breaks so I can justify buying a color wireless inkjet. About once a year I want to print out some Google maps for a trip and Staples won’t print them.)

          No problem with the link. You’re bringing information, not trying to sell a product.

          • Otis11

            Yeah, I understand – but I think you’re a rare case. Most people will go through ink fast enough that it doesn’t dry out (I would guess…)

            I’m probably the other extreme – I print 100 pgs/week, give or take. Reports, flyers, pamphlets, resumes and the occasional oddity – coloring pages/home made cards… Anyway, Printers typically last me 4-5 years, but now I create a lot less waste and save a bunch.

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