If you’re new to the process of remanufactured, refilled, or recycled cartridges, this information may help. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to talk with us further at 407-767-0680.
A printer cartridge can consist of varying amounts of recycled material. The environmental cost will be very different depending on to which extent recycled materials are used in the production of the cartridge.
We define recycled printer cartridges as cartridges that are made from reworked waste or parts of old printer cartridges.
The generic process used during printer cartridge recycling is as follow:
- Upon arrival, cartridges are sorted based on model and condition and broken down into their main parts.
- Cartridges are checked for damage and overall condition. Damaged and worn parts are replaced by fresh components.
- Cartridges are reassembled and filled with new printer ink or toner. Cartridges are tested automatically for errors and then sealed in new packages.
- Recycled cartridges are sold to offline and online supply shops marketing them as remanufactured cartridges.
Recycling concepts and terms are unfortunately often mixed up and used in the wrong way. Some of the most commonly used terms and concepts are presented and explained below. Printer cartridges with the lowest environmental impact are presented first with the rest following in a descending order
Refilled cartridges are printer cartridges that have been refilled with new ink or toner by printer cartridge owners or shops. Home owners can refill their cartridges by buying refill kits.
When going for this alternative, please be aware that worn or end of life-cycle components in your printer cartridge may need to be replaced. If not, the printer might print with lower quality than expected. Follow the instructions provided in the refill kit carefully to avoid leakage and handling errors when refilling your cartridge.
Refilling the cartridge is often the only alternative for reuse of non branded cartridges or previously recycled cartridges as most recycling companies do not accept these. Read more on which type of cartridges are accepted.
Refurbished / reused / remanufactured cartridges
These types of cartridges are to a greater or lesser extent produced from old printer cartridge parts that have been reused or repaired. All parts are examined, washed and tested individually to meet or exceed the quality standards set up by the OEM cartridge manufacturer. Key parts affecting quality and performance of the printer cartridge are replaced with new components while the cartridge case and non-wearing components are kept.
It’s better to re-use parts of old printer cartridges than to create new waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators. Less waste and energy are used in the manufacturing of these cartridges compared with recycled cartridges thus making them a better purchase.
These cartridges are made from reworked waste. The energy cost for transportation, sorting and transformation is higher than for the group above making this a slightly worse alternative to go with.
We chose to group together recycled cartridges with refurbished, reused and remanufactured cartridges in this article to make things more understandable. Thus, recycled printer cartridges are according to our definition cartridges that are made from reworked waste or parts of old printer cartridges. Approximately 20-30% of all sold printer cartridges worldwide are a recycled cartridge.
These cartridges have the worst impact on the environment. Virgin cartridges are produced from new raw materials which demand much energy during production while creating new waste when they are empty.
Example: An average toner cartridge, used in laser printers, faxes and copiers is made of 40% plastic requiring up to 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of oil. The rest of the cartridge consists of 40% metal and smaller amounts of rubber, paper, foam and toner.