our used ink and toner cartridges at one time or another. Throwing them in the trash is not environmentally-friendly, since the plastic adds to the waste stream and landfills, and misses out on an excellent opportunity to reuse the plastic again. In fact, printer cartridges can be recycled up to six times before they can no longer be reused¹.
There is a lot of opportunity to recycle the 60-80% of ink cartridges that currently end up in landfills and take about 1,000 years to break down¹. In the U.S. alone, 131 ink cartridges are being thrown away every second². By recovering and recycling printer and toner cartridges, millions of cubic feet of waste is diverted from landfills, which saves millions of dollars in landfill management costs¹.
While some organizations and companies offer to recycle ink and toner cartridges at no cost, there are also a number of options by which you can earn some cash for recycling something that you had to get rid of anyway. This makes recycling your old printer and toner cartridges good for both the environment and your wallet.
- Sell Them on eBay. eBay has a large market for selling not only new printer or toner cartridges, but used ones as well. The average selling price is about $2.50 per cartridge².
For the best listing, list the manufacturer, model number, and ink color, and add pictures of your cartridge(s). List them as “virgin” if they have never been refilled, which may be favored by potential buyers and should increase the money that you earn³.
- Turn Them in For Store Credit. Some office supply stores have rewards programs that will give you in-store credit for each cartridge that you turn in. For instance, Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples stores in the U.S. all offer store credits of around $2 per cartridge²,³.
Some stores have a limit to how much credit can be given per person each month (such as a limit of 10 cartridge credits per month at some stores), and others may require that you spend a certain amount of money at their business first in order to be eligible for these credits².
- Sell Them to Online Buy-Back Sites. Many sites offer to pay you for your used printer and toner cartridges, and generally provide free shipping and handling options³.
All that is typically required is that you complete some online forms, and the company will send you a prepaid shipping package used to send them your old cartridges. Make sure that you send along a packing slip that lists the contents of your package. Once your package is received, payments are typically sent out within a few weeks².
Payments for used cartridges by these sites vary. Some companies pay $3-4 for lower end cartridges, and up to $20 for higher-end models.²,³
Make sure that you check each site before you ship off your cartridges to determine which ones each company will accept and which ones they won’t. These recycling companies will only pay for the ones that they accept, and some even charge penalty fees for those cartridges that they don’t accept¹.
Some sites offer the option to either pay you cash for your used cartridges or to donate the money to a charity of your choice. This can provide a great opportunity to raise funds for organizations such as schools, churches, sports teams, or non-profits¹.
- Earth911 Recycling Centers. These recycling centers accept many different materials, such as ink cartridges, and some will offer you money to recycle them. To find one of these recycling centers where you live, check out http://search.earth911.com.