What Happens to Toner That Isn't Properly Recycled?

Computer and printer. Learn what happens to toner that isn't properly recycled.

What Happens to Toner That Isn’t Properly Recycled?

Your home or workplace probably buys ink regularly to print important documents. What do you do with the leftover cartridge when the toner runs out? Taking extra time to recycle toner cartridges properly has a massive impact on our beautiful planet, including our atmosphere. 

When Toner Isn’t Recycled

Toner tossed in the trash is in for a long journey. Approximately 1,00 years long. Because of the complex plastic used, cartridge decomposition is slow, leading to crowded landfills. Chemical-filled ink and toner waste can leak out, polluting the surrounding environment and infesting nearby water sources. 

If the cartridges don’t end up in a landfill, they’ll wind up in an incinerator where they’ll release toxins into the air, contributing to air pollution. 

Today, Americans go through approximately 400 million cartridges annually.

While your old toner cartridge rots in a landfill or burns in an incinerator, manufacturers make new ones to meet consumer demand. Non-renewable resources, including oil, are used to create the necessary plastics, and precious energy is used for manufacturing. In fact, the production of only one cartridge can lead to 10.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emitting into the atmosphere. 

Now consider what happens when you recycle toner: producing a new ink cartridge from a recycled one uses 80% less energy! Think of the greenhouse gasses we’re eliminating from one simple action. 

Now, you might be wondering – how do I recycle cartridges? 

Where to Recycle Toner Cartridges 

If you don’t throw them in the trash, how do you properly dispose of toner or ink cartridges? It’s a little more complicated than simply tossing them into your recycling bin. We’re going to ask you to go one step further. 

The key is finding an effective take-back program. Look for a place in your neighborhood where you can drop off used cartridges. Or, depending on which type of toner you purchased, you might be able to send them back to the manufacturer. 

One example we love to share: Staples has created a recycling program for toner, ink, and used electronics. You can show up with your used materials, and they’ll handle the rest! (You might even be able to collect a little cash if you purchased the products from Staples.)

Close the Loop decided to put toner waste to good use! We developed TonerPlas®, which combines toner waste, recycled glass, and recycled asphalt to create a new asphalt mix. The result: lower-carbon, higher-quality roads, and less waste overwhelming landfills. Talk about a win-win.

Learn more about TonerPlas®

Spread the Word and Eliminate Toner Waste

If this revelation comes as a surprise to you, you’re not alone. We need more education about eliminating toner waste correctly. At Close the Loop, we have a challenge for you: 

Commit to bringing this topic up at work or home. Help the people in your life take the time to recycle toner and ink properly. In a matter of minutes, you can eliminate lifetimes of waste. 

Another way to make a massive impact is to create an office-wide strategy. If you’re inspired to start a take-back program for your office, we’d love to hear from you! Together, we can take steps towards a happier, healthier planet. 

Global Reach