Toner Recycling and Reuse
Switching to remanufactured ink and toner cartridges can have a positive effect on your bottom line and the environment. With the struggling economy and the push to "go green," there has never been a better time to consider your business' use of printing and imaging supplies, and how you can leverage ink and toner recycling programs to lessen your environmental impact and save money in the process.
Remanufactured cartridges are essentially ink and toner cartridges that are developed using empty cores. Remanufacturers collect empty cartridges, inspect and clean them, then replace key components within the cartridge and remarket them as new, finished goods. These cartridges are designed to meet Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) page yields at a fraction of the price, and offer businesses and consumers alike a high quality, low cost, environmentally friendly alternative.
Landfills and Fossil Fuels
Each discarded laser cartridge adds approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic waste to our landfills — waste that will take as long as 1,000 years to decompose. It is also estimated that 100 million laser printer cartridges, and 400 million inkjet printer cartridges, are produced each year. Remanufacturing these 500 million cartridges could save an estimated four million cubic feet of landfill space.
In addition to keeping waste out of landfills, remanufactured and recycled ink and toner cartridges dramatically reduce the consumption of ecologically damaging fossil fuels. The plastic in each new laser toner cartridge takes 3.5 quarts of oil to produce and each new inkjet cartridge requires 2.5 ounces of oil. A 2008 study completed by Best Foot Forward and commissioned by the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse found that the CO2 emissions for a new cartridge were almost 2.5 times the emissions produced from a remanufactured cartridge.
Reuse, then Recycle
Simply stated: remanufacturing, or reusing, cartridges is the most environmentally responsible option. Aside from reducing consumption, reuse is the highest form of environmental responsibility — superior to recycling in that it doesn't use non-renewable resources to break down plastic and metal.
A cartridge and all its components should always first be evaluated for remanufacturing. If reuse is not possible, then responsible recycling should be pursued. This stance is echoed by multiple government agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Industrial Technologies (PDF) and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Closed-Loop Ink and Toner Recycling Process
Leading remanufacturers, like my company and MCPc partner Clover Technologies Group, evaluate every empty cartridge that is received first for remanufacturing and second for material recovery through recycling. A remanufacturable cartridge is disassembled and as many components as possible are reused, and any unusable cartridges and components are recycled.
In fact, we even have an on-site grinding facility, where unusable cartridge components are ground and recycled into new plastic products. This closed-loop environmental process ensures that every component of collected materials is either reused or recycled.
Recycling your used inkjet and toner cartridges is easy! In most cases, the company that you buy your supplies from has an inkjet or toner recycling program in place today — just ask about how you can participate. There are also recycling programs available at major office supply superstores (i.e. Staples, Office Max, Office Depot), and numerous websites are dedicated to the reclamation of used inkjet and toner cartridges.
Purchasing Recycled Ink and Toner Cartridges
In addition to sending your old cartridges to ink and toner recycling organizations, you can often purchase recycled supplies through them. In addition to the environmental benefits of this option, your business can save money, as remanufactured cartridge prices are often 30-50% lower than new OEM cartridges.
I encourage you to think about these and other ways through which you can green your office environment this Earth Day and every day. What programs has your business put in place to lessen its environmental impact?
This post was guest authored by Michael Ducey. He has been in the office supply industry for more than 6 years, and is currently the Director of Strategic Accounts at Clover Technologies Group.