Are Ink Cartridges Recyclable? How to Properly Dispose of Them

cmyk cartridges in printer

We all want to do our part to save the planet. Now, more than ever, being environmentally conscious is less of a choice and more of a civic responsibility. 

When making eco-friendly purchases, we don’t often think about our tech accessories and how we can consciously dispose of them. Printer ink cartridges, in particular, create a significant amount of waste every year. But there are some choices you can make that will lessen their impact. 

Your Choices

Out of the 500 million ink cartridges used, 375 million are sent to landfills every year. With conscious cartridge recycling, 40,000 tons of metal and plastic are saved from a landfill annually.  

There are two main ways you can make your home or office printer greener. You can either choose to recycle your old printer ink cartridges, or you can refill them. 

By making one of these choices, you are helping to preserve the environment. By recycling and refilling, you reduce air and water pollution used for the manufacturing and incinerating of new cartridges. It also saves the elements used to make brand new cartridges, preserving things like water, wood, oil, and minerals. Recycling and refilling also decrease greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from the manufacturing process. 

Both options are excellent eco-choices. The one you choose depends on how often you need to replace your printer ink.

1. Refill your printer ink.  

If you choose to refill your printer ink cartridges, you have two paths. Some retailers can refill your ink cartridges for you. They will refill the cartridges, and then they will perform a quality test on your remanufactured ink cartridges to ensure there are no broken components. 

You can also refill the cartridges on your own. A refill kit will usually come with gloves, an ink syringe, a screw tool, and instructions, and you can refill your cartridges with these simple steps:

  1. Buy an ink replacement system from an online retailer.
  2. Wear gloves to avoid staining your hands with ink.
  3. Locate the refill ports for ink or toner—sometimes under the label.
  4. Follow the specific directions on your kit to refill with ink.
  5. Reseal your cartridges.
  6. Clean the ink syringe.

You need to refill your ink cartridges with a refill kit specific to the brand of your cartridges, as ink capacities differ across brands. You will be able to refill your ink cartridges three or four times. After that point, you can recycle them.

The best remanufactured ink cartridges will come from the same brand as your printer and will have had some quality tests run on them to ensure all the parts are working correctly.

closeup ink jet cartridges used

2. Recycle your ink cartridges.

Throwing your ink cartridges in the trash has a major impact on the planet. It takes three quarts of oil to create a new laser cartridge and three ounces for an inkjet ink cartridge. The polymer-grade plastic cartridges are made from takes a long time to decompose—approximately 450 to 1,000 years, depending on the type of cartridge. They can also leak in landfills, distributing chemicals into the soil and groundwater. Carbon black toner is considered a carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

When you recycle your cartridges, you are not only saving the plastic and metal from the landfill but also preserving the air and water from pollution and the fossil fuels used in creating them. However, ensure you are recycling in the right manner. 

To recycle your refilled or empty cartridges, find a facility that will take them. A useful website is Earth 911 recycling locator. Many stores can recycle your empty toner and ink cartridges, and some even have a rewards program, benefiting those who make greener choices. 

Many ink manufacturers have taken steps to become more eco-conscious by creating recycling programs. HP printer ink cartridges can be recycled at stores that participate in their recycling program or they can be shipped to the manufacturer free of charge. Canon ink cartridges can be taken to your local FedEx location for recycling through their program.   

You can also make environmentally conscious choices like using recycled printer paper, along with recycling and refilling your ink cartridges. 

recycle reduce reuse icon illustrated

Final Thoughts

In today’s world, eco-consciousness is at the forefront of most people’s minds. We all need to make an effort to recycle and reuse whenever we can.

One way to save fossil fuels, protect the environment, and decrease landfill waste is by refilling and recycling your used printer ink cartridges. It doesn’t take much time or effort, and it saves you money and helps the Earth at the same time.

For the best reusable and remanufactured ink cartridges available online, explore the range at Ink Jet Super Store. You can talk with our team of support staff via live chat or on the phone at (888) 745-4316 to find out more about how you can make greener printing choices.