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Printer Cartridge Recycling

Simon from Cartridges Direct discusses the options for recycling your used printer cartridges to help decrease their impact on the environment.



According to this report carried out by Planet Ark, Australians throw away over 18 million printer cartridges in 2005 alone. Assuming that trend continues, that’s about 5,000 tonnes of electronic waste (eWaste) being added to our landfills each and every year. This is a staggering statistic, especially when you consider that the polymers used to make printer cartridges can take around 1000 years to decompose, all the while leaking dangerous toxins into the environment.


As one of the largest suppliers of printer cartridges in Australia, Cartridges Direct has a responsibility to help turn these statistics around. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive resource outlining the dos and don’ts of printer cartridge recycling in Australia.


1.      Re-manufacturing

One of the advantages of buying genuine printer cartridges (as opposed to compatible or refilled cartridges) is that they can be remanufactured and re-used. Remanufactured cartridges are dismantled and cleaned before being replaced with genuine ink from the manufacturer. This process is great for the environment because it avoids having to throw the cartridge away altogether, and the unit can be remanufactured a number of times before being recycled. It’s important to note that remanufacturing is a very different process to refilling, which comes with a number of risks. You can read more about this here.

2.    Recycling

All printer cartridges will end up in landfills eventually unless they’re recycled properly. Because printer cartridges are made up from a number of different materials, including plastics, metals, foams, and inks, they need to be manually separated before they can be processed, and can’t be included along with your household recycling. The collection systems and sorting facilities provided by Australian councils simply aren’t equipped to deal with these requirements, so it’s important to recycle your cartridges with one of the following organisations.


The following organisations have been established so that printer cartridges can be separated and recycled correctly.

In 2002 Planet Ark joined forces with Close the Loop to create Cartridges 4 Planet Ark. C4PA works alongside major manufacturers such as HP and Canon to collect and return cartridges for remanufacturing and recycling. At the time of this article C4PA has prevented more than 22 million printer cartridges from ending up as landfill.

Cart Collect offers a program that redirects printer cartridge waste back into the remanufacturing stream for re-use. Through this process Cart Collect has prevented 168 tonnes of eWaste from entering landfills each year since it was established, saving over 722,000 litres of oil from damaging the environment.

This Victoria-based company provides a free collection service within Melbourne and even offers a buyback program for used genuine empties for brands like Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Brother & Samsung which they remanufacturer and sell back to the public at wholesale prices.

Empties 4 Cash recycles all sorts of eWaste but has a strong focus towards printer cartridges. Like the name suggests, E4C pays cash for used genuine printer cartridges and guarantees payment within 2 weeks. Simply send your empties in their original boxes and E4C does the rest, they even cover the cost of shipping.

Save the environment and support charity by donating your new and used printer cartridges to Recycle 4 Charity.  Recycle 4 Charity supports causes across a number of areas including healthcare, poverty, and education and can also make a cash donation to a charity of your choice through their fundraising program.


The recycling process isn’t just good for the environment, it also generates a variety of raw materials that can be harvested during the recycling process and reused. First, any left-over printer ink is extracted from the cartridges for use in low-grade printing applications. Magnets are then used to separate metals from clean plastics so both can be recycled appropriately, while remaining materials are recycled into eWood for use in furniture.

Written by Simon Williams
Simon Williams is the Managing Director of, a premium reseller of genuine ink and toner cartridges for all major brands. Since 2006 Simon Williams has helped consumers across Australia save on their genuine printer cartridges. You can find Simon on  and Linkedin

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