Recycling laser toner cartridges
Every year approximately 250 million inkjet and laser toner cartridges are buried in landfill sites across the USA . That's nearly one cartridge for each citizen. A recent poll found that 55.6% of Americans throw away their empty cartridges after use, rather than recycle. Many are unaware of the environmental impact they are causing.
Each laser toner cartridge uses approximately 2.5 pounds of plastic and a gallon of oil in the manufacturing process. The industrial grade plastics used are so tough that they don't begin to degrade for 450 years and take millennia to fully degrade. Add in noxious inks and toner, plus the wholesale waste of perfectly functioning electronic components, and you can see why recycling makes sense. So why isn't everybody doing it?
The good news is that; with increasing public awareness, more and more people are. Arguably the best method of recycling is reuse, which can be achieved in a number of ways:
All the leading manufactures now run remanufacturing schemes, offering discounts for customers who return their used toner cartridges. Check your supplier's terms and conditions carefully as some unscrupulous manufacturers have been criticized for collecting cartridges for incineration (so that they can't be remanufactured elsewhere).
Most printer supply stores now offer a remanufacturing service, which typically costs half the price of a replacement cartridge. Used cartridges are taken apart, cleaned, refilled and tested; a process which can be repeated up to ten times. Original Equipment Manufacturers aren't keen on independent remanufacturing companies and are working overtime to design toner cartridges that are either impossible to disassemble or use microchips to disable the cartridge once empty.
Perhaps the most economical option is to invest in a home refill kit and do the job yourself. Cartridges vary greatly in complexity and it's a good idea to find out how easy your particular cartridge is to refill before handing over your credit card. If you're lucky it will be an idiot-proof two minute job; on the other hand it might call for a doctorate in mechanical engineering.
Even if you don't want to reuse your toner cartridge; somebody else will. And with city-wide collection points and recycling bins in most office supply stores; there's really no excuse.