Printer cartridge recycling for a greener future

Friday, 02 June, 2017

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A record 13,500 printer cartridges have been recycled in Australia every working day as part of the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ program.

More than 3.5 million cartridges in total have been sent for recycling.

“The success of Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is a direct result of the commitment demonstrated by our program partners. With their participation the program has been able to build an extensive collection and processing infrastructure that makes it easy for households and workplaces to recycle their cartridges, which is clearly reflected in the previous year’s results,” said Ryan Collins, recycling programs manager at Planet Ark.

Collectively, participating cartridge manufacturers Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica, Minolta and Kyocera have helped Australians divert 34 million cartridges from landfill since the program began.

“It doesn’t make good business sense to send useful and valuable materials to landfill when they can be salvaged and directed back into the economy. We’re particularly proud of the fact that the program has consistently achieved zero waste to landfill every year,” Collins said.

Printer cartridges can take 450–1000 years to break down in landfill, and e-waste is the fastest growing form of waste. Rapid innovation, a decrease in product life span and declining prices of electronics and raw materials have led to the discarding of more items.

Australian consumers are largely supportive of responsible waste management and recycling. One study suggested that 82% of participants would recycle even if it required more effort.

Once collected, used printer cartridges are sorted and either returned to the manufacturer for remanufacturing or dismantled. Plastics, metals, toner and ink are collected for recycling by resource recovery partner Close the Loop.

Aluminium, steel and up to six different types of plastic can be retrieved from used printer cartridges to make products including new cartridges, pens, rulers, park benches and fencing, as well as an asphalt additive that improves the performance and longevity of roads.

A new product called Tonerseal has been launched, which is a spray seal binder for roads that is made from over 20% recycled waste toner. As well as this, approximately 900 km of Australian roads have been resurfaced with TonerPave.

Australia Zoo recently chose to lay 250 tonnes of TonerPave as part of its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Consumers and workplaces can access a free network of 4000 Cartridges for Planet Ark public recycling collection boxes around the country. They are located at participating stores including Australia Post, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Office National.

Image credit: © Ambrozik

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