Recycling printer cartridges

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Printer ink – is it the greatest scam of our time? If you look at prices, you’re paying dozens of pounds at a time for just a few millilitres of ink in a container that often contains a chip that ensures it can’t be refilled. It’s the same for toner cartridges too.

The problem is that ink cartridges will only fit the printer for which they’re made, and it’s an increasingly risky business using generic cartridges that may or may not work. Basic home printers are relatively cheap, because the manufacturers know that they will make their profits many times over from repeat ink purchases.

It’s much the same with office ink cartridges on a slightly grander scale. Office printers contain toner cartridges rather than ink, that have the capacity to print tens of thousands of pages, and are priced accordingly. They’re better value but still an expense for any office business that uses a lot of paper.

Recycling printer cartridges

Worst value of all are colour cartridges, experts says. These comes with cyan, magenta and yellow ink, and only a few ml of each. According to a recent report in the Guardian, even cartridges marketed as “XL” sizes contain less ink than regular cartridges did a few years ago, the motivation being to ensure regular custom for branded items.

Manufacturers say they’re not gouging customers, and the price-per-page remains as cheap as ever.

However, most experts in the trade concede it is best to buy reasonably priced refilled cartridges, which can save up to 70 per cent on originals. It is, however, worth finding out if refilled cartridges will work in your machine before you buy, as some brands stop working as soon as the chip inside says it is empty.

If your business prints a lot, it is worth getting into some sort of cartridge recycling regime. Many recycling companies have a toner recycling service that will pay to take away your old cartridges, and sell them on to refilling organisations. Just dumping your old toner and ink cartridges actually loses money for businesses.

Over 55 million used toner cartridges go into UK landfills each year according to the UK Cartridge Remanufacture Association, which could have earned their previous owners over £27 million. Simply placing a toner recycling bin in your company’s regular recycling point will encourage employees to leave cartridges as their desk printers run out. Companies often find that staff get so much into the habit of recycling the cartridges from their work printers, that they also bring in the cartridges from their domestic machines rather than bin them at home.

Recycling toner cartridges saves a company money, but also saves resources. And once they’re refilled, they can save business budgets a second time around.

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