March 29, 2017 Other, Waste No Comments
Ink Waste: The Environmental Impact of Printer Cartridges
A major problem we are all facing today is e-waste.

The astounding number of electronic gadgets available worldwide is growing faster than ever before. While recycling is available, most electronics end up in landfills causing damage not yet totally realized. It’s been reported that 5 percent of total waste is from electronics, but 70 percent of all toxic waste comes from e-waste. A major contributor to this crisis is printer cartridges.

What makes up a printer cartridge?

Printer cartridges contain toner consisting of very tiny particles of plastic mixed with carbon and other toxic ingredients such as coloring agents. Crude oil, one of the disappearing fossil fuels, is used to make the plastic. Then there is the packaging it comes in made from wood pulp, another depleting natural resource. If the cartridge is not recycled, it goes into the landfill. Several hundreds of years later it’s still there, slowly contaminating everything around it. And when cartridges are thrown away, a replacement has to be purchased meaning more natural resources are being used, or rather wasted. Meanwhile, back at the landfill, the toner leaks into the soil and water around it and this poison lasts for centuries. Not a pretty picture for our future generations to deal with.

Problems bigger than imagined

There is evidence that individuals and big companies are doing their best to recycle and reuse cartridges. Over 2.5 million are sent to recycling locations and then reused. But the frightening fact is that 10 million are disposed of and end up in landfills. Then there is the problem of wildlife eating the bits of plastic, thinking it’s food. If it gets into the oceans, the fish and waterfowl are also affected and then we, buying fish and fowl for food, become victims of our own foolishness. Something is wrong with this scenario.

What is being done and what CAN be done?

It’s becoming increasingly important to tackle this problem now. New technologies need to be discovered, maybe changing some patterns of usage, or exploring new possibilities for recycling – just a few of the solutions being looked at today. By sending used cartridges back to the manufacturer, it is possible to lower the impact on the environment. Using less energy and saving resources and money are incentives to think about. An industry standard is being used to make sure all products are treated equally and that performance of the recycled ones matches that of new cartridges. According to this survey done by Ink Station, the surprising fact that about 97 percent of the original parts of printer cartridges can be reused for other products makes it even more necessary to get that information out there. When you can save the raw materials for other uses and use only 1/9th of the materials for a new cartridge, what could be better for our future?

Paper recycling is understood to be important but recycling of printer cartridges is more and more urgent. With e-readers and cell phones keeping us from printing as much as before, there is still the need to raise awareness of the urgency required to keep these cartridges out of landfills and, hopefully, keep the damage to the environment down to a minimum. The help is there. The next step is ours. And so is the future.


This is a guest post written by Bob Gorman.
MeBob Gorman is a freelance writer and a passionate blogger. He likes writing articles that cover home, family and nature related topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he enjoys having a cold one with his wife Lana.

Written by Guest Contributor