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How to Go Green: How to Recycle Printer Cartridges

The ink or toner cartridges you use in your home or office printer were built to last and if you throw them away the plastic will sit in landfills for years. This is why many companies encourage you to recycle your used printer cartridges when they run out of ink. They will reuse the cartridges, getting usually about five or six uses out of them before they begin to show any wear.

Recycling your used printer cartridges is a very easy thing to do, and it makes a big difference in the environment. Most office supply stores will collect old printer cartridges in store, and some of them, such as Staples, even give you a small store credit toward the purchase of a new cartridge when you recycle your HP, Lexmark, and Dell cartridges.

If you prefer not to go into the store, consider using the InkDrop service offered by Staples. You buy two cartridges through them, they send you prepaid shipping labels, and when one cartridge runs out, you put in your second and return the first to them. They mail you back a refilled cartridge before the one in your printer runs out (unless you are using a lot of ink very quickly), and they bill your credit card just for the price of the cartridge (no shipping costs).

Many schools and other youth organizations have fundraisers that involve collecting recyclables such as old ink cartridges. If you would prefer to donate locally, keep your old printer cartridges in a safe place and keep an eye out for recycling drives in your area.

Lastly, if you consider yourself a handy person, you can buy kits to refill your empty ink and toner cartridges at home. Toner is much easier than ink in this realm, and the toner cartridges tend to last longer. Just buy a kit at your local office supply store, and use the provided instructions to get the bottle of toner into your cartridge. However, this method may not seem very advantageous for the truly environmentally-minded because it still uses packaging supplies in the refill kit!