Getting Inked

Unless you are refilling or buying remanufactured ink, you may be spending more money on office supplies than necessary. Most likely, your printers, fax machines and copiers use ink and toner cartridges that can be refilled.

According to Inform Inc. and the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, “recycled cartridges are 30 to 60 percent less expensive on a cost per copy basis.” And, “approximately three quarts of oil are burned in the production of a single new toner cartridge. A used cartridge can be remanufactured up to four times, depending on type and condition, saving up to three quarts of fuel each time. It decreases the amount of plastic, steel, aluminum, and rubber sent to landfills and burned in incinerators.”

Earth Share put it another way. They say that remanufacturing cartridges uses 80 percent less energy than manufacturing new ones. The site also states that using recycled cartridges cost up to 80 percent less than new ones, and that cartridges can take up to a 1,000 years to decompose. Although the data from each source isn’t the same, the bottom line is that it saves energy.

Those ink cartridges that you toss so often could be refilled at a fraction of the cost of a new one, saving landfills, money and energy. If you don’t have time to bother with that, national chains such as Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Brother, and others offer recycle rewards programs. In addition to office supply stores, ink manufacturers, wholesale clubs, and independent ink recycling stores offer discounts, refill, and buy back programs.

Another option is to simply buy remanufactured cartridges. They make them to fit many printers, fax machines, and copiers.

So, next time you get that blinking red light that tells you it’s time to order more ink, think about recycling them to save money and our planet.

Story by Jennifer Taylor