Printer cartridge recycling is no joke. Despite claims plastic recycling isn’t working as promised, it’s still our best option for the environment. 

Mother Earth needs us! Toner recycling can help us save our planet! 

For starters, recycling isn’t new. Truth be told, recycling has been around for centuries. Recycling dates back 100 years, prior to The Revolutionary War. Recycling has evolved over the years.

Today, our biggest hazard is electronic waste.

Environmental Cost Of E-Waste

We’ve finally learned the true cost of electronic waste. Printer cartridges are made of a complex blend of plastic, metal, foam, ink, and toner. As a result, these components cannot easily be separated. You can’t toss empty printer cartridges in with standard paper and plastic recycling. 

However, don’t toss them in the trash either. More than 375 million printer cartridges are thrown away each year.

It’s tragic, considering a single cartridge takes a thousand years or more to fully break down.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest-growing type of waste, and one of the most toxic.

Furthermore, it takes nearly a gallon of oil to make a new printer cartridge. Therefore, by recycling toner cartridges we save millions of gallons of oil.

Fortunately, nearly 100% of printer cartridge materials can be recycled. This greatly reduces airborne pollutants. (Pssst! If you get ink or toner on your hands, we’ll tell you how to clean it off!)

How To Recycle Your Printer Cartridges

There are different ways to recycle your used ink and toner cartridges.

  • Manufacturer Lead Recycle Programs
  • Mail-in Recycle Programs
  • Office Supply Store Recycle Programs

Let’s see how these recycling programs work.

Manufacturer Lead Programs

These programs are created by the printer and cartridge manufacturers themselves.

Most major manufacturers offer free take-back programs. Some even cover the cost of postage.

Click below to learn more about the printer cartridge recycling programs of specific printer manufacturers.

  • HP’s closed loop recycling process uses plastic from recycled HP cartridges plus recycled bottles and hangers to create new ink and toner cartridges.
  • Brother reuses packing boxes to ship and return used cartridges.
  • Lexmark offers free and easy cartridge recycling since 1991. 
  • Canon offers free inkjet cartridge returns.
  • Canon Toner has been recycled since 1990, the first company to collect and recycle used copier toner cartridges.
  • The Xerox Green World Alliance has kept more than 145 million pounds of waste out of landfills over the last two decades. 
  • Okidata‘s partnership with COREFIDO allows you to recycle Oki toner cartridges, image drums, transfer belts and fusers. 
  • Panasonic partners with third party recyclers to handle its vast array of electronic products. 
  • Ricoh collects and recycles used toner cartridges, toner bottles, and ink cartridges. 
  • Samsung supports producer responsibility and responsible recycling.
  • Sharp offers free bulk shipping to recycle your toner cartridges. 
  • Dell partnered with FedEx to deliver its free mail-back recycling program.

Mail-in Recycle Programs

In addition to manufacturer lead recycling programs, there are also non-manufacturer mail-back programs.

Some companies provide pre-paid mailing labels and offer cash back for your empty cartridges. It’s also easy to donate that money to a worthy cause. You can find out more at:

Office Supply Retailers

Don’t want to mail your empties back?

You can always visit your nearest office supply store. Most offer their own cartridge recycling program.

Also, you can recycle your empty printer cartridges at almost any Staples, Office Depot, or other major office supply store. Some major retailers, such as Walgreens, refill empty cartridges. 

Making The Change To Toner Recycling

Recycling begins at home…and the office.

Many companies have made big strides in recycling. This begins by promoting the benefits of recycling toner cartridges. It continues in our homes and workplaces, where we can all take steps to reduce electronic waste.