Image Credit: Francis Ray
There are about 65 million printer cartridges sold in the UK each year, however only about 15 per cent are recycled or reused. Yet inkjet printer cartridges are completely recyclable. It is very important that they are not disposed of in household waste; the cartridges will still contain a small amount of ink which contains chemicals that will run away into the soil, and the plastic casing could take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill. The cartridge will also contain small amounts of metal that can be reused.
However there are lots of ways to recycle your empty ink cartridges in the UK.
Most domestic recycling collections will not collect printer ink cartridges along with your bottles, tins and paper. You could check with your local council to see if they have introduced this service. So what can you do with your cartridges once they are empty?
There are 6 ways that you can recycle your empty ink cartridges.
Many household recycling centres will accept printer ink cartridges for recycling. You can check whether your local council offer this service at RecycleNow.
Many larger branches of supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose have recycling collection points, so check if your local supermarket will accept your cartridges.
The materials used to make printer ink cartridges are all recyclable, and most cartridges contain some metal components along with the plastic and ink. This means that your cartridges can be used to raise money when recycled in bulk by charities.
You may be able to take the cartridges into a local charity shop or find a collection box in venues such as libraries, schools and offices.
If you can’t find an inkjet printer cartridge collection near you, you can send them directly to Recycle4Charity, nominating a charity. You can also fundraise for your own good cause via Recycle4Charity by ordering a collection box.
In general it is only the branded cartridges that will have any value, however any cartridges sent will be recycled, even if they do not raise any funds for the charity.
You can also get cash for your old ink cartridges if you send them to for recycling. There are a number of recyclers that will provide you with a freepost envelope so that you can post small quantities of cartridges for free.
Once again it is only branded cartridges that have any value, but some cartridge recyclers will pay up to £3 or more per item. Try Recycle Ink Cartridges, Cartridge World or Printer Cartridge Recycling.
If you have a printer from a well-known brand, you may be able to recycle your branded ink cartridges via the manufacturer of your printer. Most of the big name printer manufacturers including HP, Canon, Lexmark, Epson, Oki and Brother all offer cartridge recycling.
Visit the manufacturer’s website to apply for a freepost envelope to return your cartridges in.
If you are feeling adventurous, it is possible to refill your ink cartridges using an ink refill kit, which are available at office supply stores, larger supermarkets and computer retailers and online at places such as Amazon.
This will save you a lot of money, but does involve a little bit of drilling and injecting the ink. This video from Which? gives an overview of what is involved in the refill process.
If you don’t fancy that, there are shops where you can get your cartridge refilled for you. This will still save you some money on buying a new cartridge. Google to find one near you.
Do you have an unused ink cartridge, still sealed in the packet that you no longer need? Maybe it is for a printer that you no longer own. Well you have quite a few options.
You may be able to donate it to a charity shop (but do ask if they can sell them, otherwise it could still go to landfill), sell it via eBay or Facebook marketplace, or give it to someone via Freecycle or Freegle.
Some ink cartridge recyclers also accept unused cartridges for cash as well, offering up to £5 for branded cartridges for recent model printers.
If you have a printer that you wish to recycle, read about how to recycle electrical equipment.