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What Original Printer Cartridge Manufacturers Do To Recycle Empty Printer Cartridges

What Original Printer Cartridge Manufacturers Do To Recycle Empty Printer Cartridges
By Simon Williams
May 10, 2020

If you were ever of the belief that big business doesn’t care about the lifecycle of their products and the detriment consumption has on the environment - cast your eyes to the printing industry. The sustainable movement hasn’t just been adopted by one or two bright thinkers, but almost every single major manufacturer is doing their bit and bringing fresh initiatives to the table, challenging the way society acts. If your knowledge of best practise print recycling extends only to the printer cartridge collection bins, allow us to inspire you with what is being done by print tech giants. Although recycling end of life products is essential it is not always profitable. The Original Printer Cartridge Manufacturers subsidise the costs of recycling to preserve the environment and minimise the use of new materials. Generic printer cartridge manufacturers make no such arrangements and are not concerned that their products go to landfill where they will take between 500 and 1,000 years to break down.


HP rightfully deserves to be at the top of the list, as they are arguably the most active in challenging the status quo, not just in the printing arena but in technology as a whole. HP have a great number of programs, so let’s touch on the ones that have the greatest uptake and have achieved the most unbelievable outcomes. 70% of HP’s new ink products come from recycled printer cartridges which equates to more than 8.5mil kilos of plastics that have been recovered and put back to work. By 2030, HP wants to see 30% of their products (including printers, scanners and technologies) made from recycled plastics, minerals and metals. 

This is an aggressive goal which is going to be possible due to their HP Planet Partners program which has been around for over 25 years and has since grown to include a successful partnership with Planet Ark and Close the Loop. Users can be part of the movement by recycling their printer cartridges through HP centres, at Australian Post and through the Planet Ark recovery bins that can be added to any office or home.


Epson has also worked hard to reduce their impact, and have made some sustainable changes that have seen printer cartridges returning back to their manufacturing plants with users taking advantage of the free post return service that Epson facilitates. It’s never been so easy to use your Epson cartridges, and then download a free return pack that will ensure they return safely. The innovation does not end there, however. Epson has also worked hard to source raw materials which have the lowest impact on the environment, with a research program that continues to this day. 

The packaging is another area of focus for Epson, with all packaging 100% fully recyclable with at least 50% of it being made from recycled materials. This has reduced packaging waste by over 63% overall. The packaging is an area that not enough companies address, especially when it is the first impression you make on your customers - and you want to lead by example and show them you have an ethical compass. Epson hopes to reduce its global carbon emissions by 90% by 2050.



The 5R’s of Brother

The Brother Group established the 5R concept, which lays the foundation and sets the guidelines for active participation in global efforts. Brother International Australia is guided by these environmental policies, and we have adopted the 5R concept as a basis for our own environmental activities:

  1. REDUCE waste material by recycling
  2. REUSE products and waste material
  3. REFUSE to buy environmentally unfriendly products
  4. REFORM materials and use again
  5. RECYCLE rather than scrap

In 2012 and 2013, Brother International Australia won the Brother Group Global 5R Award for its outstanding Environmental Contribution programs.

Brother’s product stewardship management strategy ensures it takes environmental responsibility for its end-of-life consumables and machine disposal.

Brother is proud to be a full funding partner of the 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' recycling program. This Australia wide program collects and returns cartridges for recycling with a zero waste to landfill guarantee.

The program is free for consumers, is independently audited, and coordinated through a network of over 30,000 businesses and over 3,000 retail outlets. Brother makes sure the product life-cycle doesn’t end up in landfill, through its support of producer responsibility programs to create a culture of recycling.


Canon dominates the marketplace in many industries, so it’s not surprising that they have huge plans to reduce their carbon impact and have placed recycling and a circular economy at the top of that list. Canon spearheads a number of programs, such as Toner Cartridge Collection which brings the cartridges back to the factory to be used again. Believing that the cartridge primary material of high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) can be used almost infinitely over and over again, they are focusing more of their attention on the casing itself where others have honed in on ink recovering more. They have four recycling sites in total, which are in Japan, France, China and the United States, which in 2018 collected 408,000 tons of plastics and previous materials from printer cartridges.


We couldn’t possibly talk about all these fantastic programs without shining a light on the Lexmark Cartridge Collection Program, which has won awards for its robust offering and uptake. Not only does Lexmark recover millions of used printer cartridges every year, but the products they create in the first place are highly efficient and come with the coveted eco-labels such as German Blue Angel, EPEAT and the US Energy Star certifications. This is a really holistic approach to print technology, tackling the cartridges as well as the print tech hardware itself. If you are looking for a reason to support Lexmark, they keep 30million pounds of solid waste out of waste streams by bringing them back for future products. Need we say more?


Last, but by no stretch least, is Kyocera. From the moment you receive your Kyocera printer cartridges, they come in a biodegradable box and the packaging is ethically sourced so that it too can be recycled. The Kyocera ink itself is actually a vegetable-based ink which has been tested to have no impact whatsoever on the environment - no easy feat! Kyocera are also partnered with Planet Ark which makes it incredibly easy for users to comply with recycling responsibilities, as the Planet Ark collection bins are fortunately everywhere. 

For those residing in metro areas, you might also be able to take advantage of Kyocera’s hard waste collection which has seen businesses able to have up to 98% of their e-waste avoid landfill. E-waste is a growing concern for our generation, especially with the speed of which new tech evolves, but Kyocera are staying committed to this collection criteria.

We are so honoured that we stock the printing solutions from these distinguished brands, who are committed to seeing their products have no harm to the environment and return from where they came. If you would like to learn more about how you can recycle your printer cartridge, or simply want to order more - visit our website at https://www.cartridgesdirect.com.au/