RECYCLING - 29.11.2012

Should you use recycled printer cartridges?

Recent research has identified that there are financial and green benefits associated with using recycled, rather than brand new, printer cartridges. So is this a practical option that you should consider?

The study

The research, which was commissioned for the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse and completed by sustainability consultants Best Foot Forward, has identified that if you’re using brand new ink and tonner cartridges, you’re missing out on the opportunity to claim green points and save money to boot (see The next step).

The findings

Over 300 million ink cartridges and more than ten million printer toner cartridges are used every year in Europe. Apparently, just 15% end up being recycled. The rest end up in landfill where it takes 1,000 years for them to start to decompose. In the UK, we’re slightly better at it - but still only 30% of the toners and cartridges used are being recycled.


If these toners and cartridges were recycled, there would be two positive outcomes. Firstly, and quite obviously, they wouldn’t fill up valuable landfill space. Secondly, and more importantly, they could be re-used - again and again.

Note. The research has identified that the carbon footprint of a remanufactured cartridge is 46% smaller than that of a new one.

Tip. Apart from the green argument, to comply with the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006 (WEEE), you must ensure that items such as toner cartridges aren’t disposed of in waste that will end up in landfill. Your legal duty is to ensure that they are disposed of/recycled via a WEEE take-back scheme.

There’s money to be saved

Leaving legal and green issues aside, recycling will save you money. For example, Cartridge World reports that it has helped businesses to save £6 million by encouraging them to go for remanufactured units rather than brand new ones.

Tip 1. Don’t give your toner cartridges away. Many of those selling cartridges will buy your old ones from you. Some will pay cash, others will give discounts off their products. Deals depend on the number and type of toner/cartridge you have.

Tip 2. Becausethere are so many suppliers in this market, shopping around is a must. There are both high street and online companies competing for your business.

Warranty issues

In the past, printer manufacturers’ warranties were often invalidated by using remanufactured toners and cartridges. This was because some were of poor quality. However, in most instances this is no longer the case.

Note. To get around this problem, some recycled cartridge suppliers are offering to cover the manufacturer’s warranty or will provide their own.

The case for using remanufactured cartridges and toner is overwhelming. It saves CO2, reduces waste and ticks legal boxes. Issues with printer warranties have been addressed by cartridge suppliers. Deals are available online and on the high street. Shop around as it’s a very competitive market.

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