Businesses of all sizes print a wide variety of documents every day. Although business documents have many variations, they all have one thing in common – they require ink or toner to produce a printed image. Toner cartridges are very convenient for refreshing your printing capability quickly and easily. Changing a cartridge is such a minor task that many are casually discarded and wind up in landfills every day.

The amount of print waste each year is astounding when you consider that nearly 350 million cartridges are thrown away every year, creating an undeniable environmental impact as suggested by Kenny Habul Greenwich, CT. As intelligent business people and citizens of this planet, it’s important to take responsibility for the hazardous chemical waste that toner cartridges represent.

To make matters worse, some printer owners may discard cartridges before they are totally empty, adding ink waste to the issue, which can also estimate weigh of a dumpster. Ink contains many chemicals that are damaging to both humans and the environment:

  • Butyl urea that helps prevent paper curling
  • Cyclohexanone to promote adherence of the ink to polymers
  • Color dyes which offer hazards of their own, including Sulphur
  • EDTA which contains ethylene glycol and other contaminants
  • How can businesses take charge of ink waste and eliminate the problem of discarded ink cartridges?

Toner Cartridge Recycling Benefits

Recycling toner cartridges has many benefits for businesses of all sizes:

  • Saves money – ink recycling programs reduce your total printing costs over purchasing new cartridges
  • Reduces ink waste – better utilization of resources
  • Environmentally friendly – keep cartridges and chemicals out of landfills and reduces your carbon footprint

When it comes to an ink recycling program, there are options:

  • Just throw used toner cartridges in the trash (obviously not a preferred option)
  • Refill them yourself – kits are available that allow you to open and refill your own cartridges. The problem with this approach is potential leaking, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and possible damage to printers and voiding your warranty.
  • Return used toner cartridges to the supplier or manufacturer. Some manufacturers will accept them for refurbishing and refilling.
  • Retail office supply stores offer recycling programs that allow you to drop off spent cartridges, often with a partial credit toward purchasing replacements.

Even where there is no financial benefit from participation in a recycling program, it’s still the responsible approach to handling empty ink cartridges. Fortunately, many businesses have taken advantage of ink recycling programs, due to some basic recycling facts:

  • Recycling saves energy by reducing the number of new cartridges produced
  • Raw materials are saved including water and oil utilized in manufacturing processes
  • Approximately 11 cartridges are discarded every second
  • A typical ink cartridge can be recycled 5-7 times, and often more

How Does an Ink Recycling Program Work?

Ink and toner recycling programs save waste and money, with a complete remanufacturing procedure. Once recycled cartridges are received, the multi-step process begins.

  • Cartridges received are inspected and tested to ensure the electrical components and circuitry are intact and meet specifications
  • Toner cartridges that pass inspection are opened – often with highly automated equipment. Internal materials such as foam are removed
  • Cartridges are cleared of any remaining ink and thoroughly cleaned, then prepared for filling
  • Using specialized equipment and proprietary techniques, cartridges are filled to the exacting specifications of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), including ink formulas
  • Filled cartridges are securely sealed to prevent leakage and to ensure clean installation and operation
  • Testing is performed on every cartridge to provide confidence in quality and performance. Standard print quality results are examined and verified.
  • Cartridges are finally cleaned, labeled, polished, and placed in heat-sealed, vapor resistant plastic, then boxed for shipment

Throughout the process, rigorous quality control is integrated into the process to ensure a quality product that meets all OEM specifications.

What about cartridges that are received, but are not viable for remanufacturing – are they headed for the landfill? Not at all. Toner cartridges that don’t meet the quality requirements for recycling can still be a value.  In many cases, these cartridges can be disassembled and cleaned, with the plastic components then being ground for reuse in manufacturing processes.

Smile Makes Toner Recycling Easy

Smile makes implementing a successful toner recycling program easy for our customers. Especially when combined with complete managed print services, our ink recycling program makes smart business sense and reduces your printing costs. Our toner recycling process just makes good business sense, and could not be simpler:

  • Retain your empty cartridges for Smile to pick up
  • We pick up and remanufacture your empty toner cartridges
  • OEM compatible, quality cartridges are delivered to your business, ready for use

With managed print services (MPS) Smile includes monitoring your covered printer devices’ ink supplies and ensures they’re always in top operating condition – including supplies such as ink and toner.

Contact Smile for information on initiating a cost-saving ink recycling program for your business.