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Elevity Technical

Recycling Used Toner & Ink Cartridges Made Easy

recycling used toner and ink
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Modern ink and toner cartridges are amazing pieces of technology. The printheads, the ink, and the mapping software can cover a piece of paper in millions of precisely aimed, color-matched dots in a matter of seconds.

Of course, that kind of technology comes at a cost. Specifically, the average printer cartridge takes 3 quarts of oil to produce. Unfortunately, only 9% of plastic containers are even being recycled[i]. If not recycled, this kind of plastic can take over 1,000 years for the cartridge to decompose in a landfill[ii]

The good news is that manufacturers and retailers recognize this issue and have made recycling options available for all types of ink and toner. You can recycle them by dropping them off at a retailer, sending them through the mail or working with a nonprofit that recycles cartridges. For large organizations, Managed Print Services (MPS) offer recycling programs and can schedule regular pickups for cartridges and other waste.

Here’s what you need to know about recycling most ink and toner cartridges for a printer, copier or multifunction device.


If you have one or just a handful of small printers purchased from a retailer, many will offer a recycling program. When buying from a store or online retailer, you should ask about drop off location areas near where the toner is sold, or you can inquire through their website or customer service representative.

While you won't get cash or credit for turning in your empty toner products, you are doing your part to help the planet and reduce waste in our landfills.


If you can’t return toner to the place you bought it, you may have additional recycling options by mail. Before throwing away the packaging, check for instructions and, in some cases, a mailable envelope for return mailing. If you lose the packaging or instructions, visit the manufacturer’s recycling page and look for the "Recycle" option. For example, you can print a return label for many cartridges from Canon’s website here, as well as from Lexmark or Ricoh.

Depending on the type of cartridge you use, you may be asked if you want to print your shipping materials or order materials to be sent to your home or business. If you have a really large amount of toner to recycle, you may even be able to order a pallet pickup.


For large enterprises and organizations, your Managed Print provider can recommend partnering with a vendor who is most suitable for you and even help start the process. Once you’re connected with the appropriate vendor, you can request recycling kits consisting of special envelopes or cartons, prepaid shipping labels, return instructions and more. When your package is ready, a pick-up is scheduled. A pallet pick-up can even be arranged for larger quantities that cannot ship via traditional Fedex or UPS pick-up methods.

Some vendors ensure that 100% of consumables are recycled with zero waste to landfills. This is reassuring for those seeking to reduce their impact on the environment. Here is a list of the most common vendors offering free and eco-friendly bulk recycling services for your ink or toner cartridges (click on the logo to be redirected to the appropriate website).              

Implementing a Managed Print program can do more than save time, paper and printing costs; it can help save the environment, too. Start realizing these benefits and reduce your carbon footprint by reaching out to Gordon Flesch for a free, no obligation consultation today.

[i] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/

[ii] CA.gov, Green California, Best Practices Manual, Toner Recycling


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