Print Cartridges Refills And The Environmental Impact

In a previous Green Blizzard article about printer cartridges, we highlighted the impact of print cartridges on our environment and gave an overview of the merits and available commercial resources for refilling and recycling printer cartridges.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the consumer refilling options and see if refilling is really convenient, thrifty, affordable, and a net GREEN expenditure of our time.

Let’s see if it is really a net positive for the environment or just more green-washing by those slick corporate types!

The rationale is there if you buy these figures:

– More than 3 quarts of oil are used to produce each laser cartridge.

– The plastic used in each printer cartridge takes more than 10 centuries (that’s 1000 years!) to decompose

– 25 million printer cartridges go to landfills each month.

– Toner cartridge remanufacturing saves over 38,000 tons of plastic and metal from landfills.

If you want to get into the business of earning a few pennies (and we mean pennies, not dollars) recycling either your personal or an organizations cartridges, the Recycle Place has a turn-key process in place that can quickly get you started.   Not a bad why to divert these reusable cartridges from either the landfill or incinerator and earn enough to buy a bag of nuts for your efforts.  The earning price list is discouraging, mere nickels and dimes for most cartridges, nothing more than a dollar.  

It will take a large box of recycled cartridges to generate any amount remotely reasonable for efforts.  Plus all the CO2 spewed hauling these back to the processing center.   Green Blizzard gives this option through Recycle Place – a big waste of time.  You’d be better off focusing your time and energy towards reducing other carbon generating aspects of your life.  Earth911 offers a searchable database of what your want to recycle and nearby locations for you.   You are better off dropping it off at a nearby office supplies store and moving on.

Buying Recycled Cartridges –  Your carbon footprint will benefit by buying a recycled refilled cartridge.  Our limited research indicates that these refilled cartridges are reliable, produce good quality and are a good value.  Both Re-inks and 123Refills offer a wide assortment.  If you are in the market for a replacement cartridge and are willing to take a little risk with a reusable options, there is probably a net benefit from supporting this good intentioned industry.

DIY and In Store Refills – 123 Refills offers inkjet refill services in store, as well as DIY ink refill kits and supplies online. These refill services and refill kits save consumers on average 40 – 70% compared to buying original cartridges.  In store refill services are offered for most inkjet cartridges. Customers that bring their empty cartridge to a 123 Refills location are ensured of a 100% professional refill as a result of our proprietary 3 step approach: CLEAN, REFILL and TEST.

Paper Printing Optimization – Cartridge World offers a free downloaded software package that supposedly saves paper and optimizes print jobs.  A noble, appreciated gesture from a business whose interest is in see in everyone print more.  Green Blizzard is an Apple shop and for some reason it did not work for us, but you may want to get it a try.  Cartridge World Print Optimization free software.


About the author

Kenny Frankel

As graduate of the University of Maryland, Kenny has a major in Environmental Politics and Policy, so he's undoubtedly a guy well versed in environmental issues. Now, post college he is a practitioner of sustainable living and employed by solar installation company. We all will have a deeper green perspective after reading his articles because he brings a big picture insight to our everyday purchase decisions and even recycling.  As an early staff writer for Green Blizzard, Kenny covers environmental policy, big-agricultures impact on the environment, solar energy, recycling, and products made from recycled materials.