If you've been chucking your inkjet and toner cartridges in the garbage up to this point, you’re not alone. Over 13 cartridges are discarded in the U.S. every second, according to CartridgeFundraising.com.
That’s hundreds of millions of cartridges that end up in landfills every year, made with plastics that can take at least 1,000 years to decompose.
It’s actually easy to cut down on this waste. First, some inkjet cartridges can be used more than once by buying a refill kit. Look for compatible inks at sites such as 123Inkjets.com.
If this seems too messy, take your empties from the home printer (don’t forget copiers and faxes, too) to the nearest drop-off center to be reused or recycled by others. Both Staples and Home Depot have in-store drop-off bins for recycling inkjet cartridges and other electronics, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can also plug in your zip code in our “Get Local Info” widget on The Daily Green’s homepage to get local recycling information. (Also try our partner, Earth911.org.)
Many companies, such as Hewlett-Packard, take them back for free. They provide mailers or labels for you to ship them back to be recycled or refurbished.
It takes about 80% less energy to remanufacture plastic than to produce it new. And remanufactured laser cartridges use about half the amount of oil (a nonrenewable fossil fuel) needed to make brand new ones. So buy recycled cartridges to begin with. You’ll save them from entering the waste stream.
Save ink and paper by printing double-sided, in black and white, and only when necessary.