How facilities dispose of printer cartridges and other office supplies has an impact on the environment, for better or worse. Reusing and recycling printer cartridges can help reduce waste that goes to landfills. Cartridge World, a specialty retailer of ink and toner printer cartridges, notes the following statistics concerning the impact of these items.
- It takes about a gallon of oil to make a new laser cartridge.
- Nearly eight cartridges are thrown away per second in the United States.
- In North America, over 350 million cartridges per year are discarded in landfills, and that number increases by 12% annually.
- Every remanufactured laser cartridge saves nearly 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic waste from being deposited in landfills.
- A laser cartridge thrown into landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose. Some components made of industrial grade plastics will take over 1,000 years to decompose.
- 70% of used printer cartridges throughout the world are currently being thrown out.
The company offers the following ways organizations can reduce the negative environmental impact of office equipment and supplies.
Paper: Simply recycling paper is not the only way to go green. Ways to take this to the next level include making scratch pads from used paper with blank backsides, proofreading documents on the computer screen rather than printing them, and keeping files on a hard drive rather than hard copies.
Packaging and Shipping: Reuse envelopes for mailing correspondence that does not affect corporate image, order items in bulk or merchandise with minimal packaging, and reuse foam packaging peanuts, and cardboard boxes.
Printer Cartridges: A laser cartridge can take up to 450 years to decompose when thrown out. Buy recycled cartridges and send your spent cartridges to be “recycled.” You can also reuse printer ink and toner cartridges by refilling them at certain supply stores.
Equipment: Use remanufactured office equipment and invest in equipment that helps reduce waste; it will save money in the long run. Use rechargeable batteries and recharge fax and printer cartridges.
Spread the Word: Publicizing your eco-friendly office habits will motivate employees and impress customers. Displaying a small paragraph somewhere on your brochures, letterhead, or e-mail signatures is a good way to do this.