It would surprise most people to know that the average toner or ink cartridge is made of engineering-grade polymers. It would probably be much more surprising to learn that experts estimate most of these products will take a full thousand years to decompose or biodegrade in landfills. Again, these statistics are much more problematic than they may initially seem. Since approximately one billion, one hundred million ink and toner cartridges are used throughout the world every year, it quickly becomes clear that this problem is monumental.
The environmental cost of these products is nothing short of staggering. When all is said and done, roughly one whole gallon of oil is used in the production of a single toner cartridge. To put this in perspective, a new hybrid car could drive a family over fifty miles on the same amount of gasoline. This is obviously a gross misuse of natural resources, since other options are available.
At this point, only twenty-thirty percent of all cartridges used worldwide are reused or otherwise remanufactured. Analysts and experts estimate a used cartridge can be reused and/or its parts can be remanufactured between three and seven times. Although that may not seem like a lot, if every cartridge was part of an inkjet or toner recycling program, this would alleviate between three and 8 billion new products having to be fabricated from scratch. The power consumption and raw material usage would be minuscule in comparison. This would have an incredibly positive effect on the environment and would allow materials and energy to be spent in more useful sectors.
A great way to recycle these products is to start a program. If each business, large or small, saved and recycled (or even refilled and reused) all spent cartridges, the benefits would be significant. Many websites offer rebate programs that will provide a deducted price for future printer supplies based on the quantity of recycled goods. Even more appealing to some people may be the websites that offer cash rewards for recycled printer supplies. Much like a bottle deposit, these businesses will offer cash based on the usability and recyclability of the goods. An inkjet printer cartridge will probably be worth a few dollars, while a toner product such as a Samsung toner cartridge could be worth upwards of twenty dollars. If many of these goods are being collected for a recycling program, this could potentially bring in enough money to completely sustain a business’s printing operation.