What Does It Take to Recycle Your Printer's Cartridge?

It is very easy to throw recyclables away, you can even improve your basketball or netball skills while doing that, but this is not the greatest idea. A toner cartridge weighs heavier compared to a coffee cup that can be easily tossed into the bin, so before tossing the cartridge, take a moment and read this article to know how you can recycle your cartridge responsibly.

According to A Greener Refill, more than 375 million empty ink and toner cartridges are thrown away each year, with most ending up in landfills. This equates to 11 cartridges being thrown away every second or more than a million cartridges per day!

This is very alarming because of the following reasons:

1. The ink can be hazardous. The colour toner that contains heavy metals can release these heavy metals (such as cadmium) into the environment if incorrectly disposed of and if we also inhale the black carbon powder, it may lead to respiratory tract infections.

2. Plastic is here to stay. The plastic that is being used to manufacture the cartridges is made of an engineering grade polymer that takes between 450 to 1,000 years to degrade due to its slow decomposing rate. This means that every single printer that was produced from the first laser printer in 1969 still exists in some form and this plastic will continuously pose environmental problems, even long after our time.

What does it take to produce a toner cartridge?

It takes about 3.8kg of oil to produce a new toner/laser cartridge and this comes with each cartridge further producing a carbon footprint of around 4.5kg of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The plastic shell that each cartridge is made of requires between 1-2 litres of non-reusable oil. 

Recycling your cartridges have many benefits.

When sending a cartridge for recycling, the plastic can be reused to make new cartridges or it can be remanufactured. Remanufacturing is a process where the cartridge is disassembled, cleaned, and rebuilt then refilled to be resold again. By reusing/remanufacturing cartridges, the oil consumption to make the plastic is reduced to zero.

By recycling printer cartridges, the need for virgin materials will be less. Furthermore, most, if not all, materials that make up a cartridge can be reused/recycled, and if the cartridges are in a seriously good condition, most can be refilled 5-7 times, with 15 being the most extreme case. By reusing/remanufacturing cartridges, the oil consumption is reduced to zero!

Here is a list of the drop-off points and collection services that you can use to find your nearest drop-off point for your cartridge.

Drop Off Points:

City of Cape Town ​​​Drop-off facilities

There are 25 drop-off facilities across Cape Town, but not all accept e-waste. Click on the drop-off closest to you to understand what is accepted. Do not use the filters as certain drop-off points do accept e-waste but filters do not show them.