Ever wondered what to do with your used ink cartridges? Well, there are plenty of ways to pass them on without throwing them in the bin. Take a look at some of the best place to recycle your ink cartridges.
Where to recycle ink cartridges:
- Local recycling centre
- The Recycling Factory
- Empties Please
- Takeback Ltd
- Printer Cartridge Recycling
I’m not sure about you, but having a printer has become a very important part of our household. My wife runs her childminding business here, my kids are always printing for their homework and I am often printing off postage labels. We can sometimes get through over 100 pages per month.
The cost of printers is very reasonable too. A basic machine will set you back around £30 and you can purchase a very good model for less than £100.
The real cost comes from ink cartridges. Depending on the make, they can cost anywhere between £10 and £30.
We use a scheme called HP Instant Ink which saves us a lot of money. Each month, HP send us a new cartridge and kindly supply us with an envelope to return our old cartridge for free.
Is it OK to throw away ink cartridges?
No. I’m sure that over the last couple of years we’ve all become far more aware of the problems that plastic pollution is causing the planet. If you throw away an ink cartridge, it will probably end up in 1 of 2 places:
- landfill, where it will take over 1,000 years to decay. And if there is still ink left in the cartridge, this could spill and destroy the surrounding environment.
- incinerator, where the plastic is burned, releasing toxic gas into the air.
Sadly, 75% – 85% of ink cartridges are still thrown away, rather than recycled in the UK.
Why do companies want empty cartridges back?
I always thought it was very generous of HP to recycle my old cartridges for free. In fact, it made me a little suspicious. So I decided to dig a little deeper. It turns out that many companies want your empty cartridges so they can refill them and then sell them on.
As we all know, ink cartridges aren’t cheap and a lot of the cost comes from the actual cartridge itself, not the ink. So if a company only has to supply the ink, it makes it a lot cheaper for them.
Where can I recycle ink cartridges?
There are plenty of places you can recycle old cartridges. Some will give you money, some loyalty points and others… nothing. If you decide to go with a company that pays, how much you will get varies, so it’s certainly worth comparing. Most will provide you with a free-post label to send your cartridges in.
The majority of larger stores (Tesco Extra and Superstores ) have a recycling point for ink cartridges. All you need to do is drop your cartridge into any of their receptacles.
Sainsbury’s has around 275 stores with recycling facilities in their car parks. These are generally for paper and card, mixed plastic, mixed glass, mixed cans, batteries and textiles. However, some sites provide extra recycling opportunities. Click here to use the Store Locator to see if your local Sainsbury’s allows you to recycle ink cartridges.
Local recycling centre
If there isn’t a Tesco or Sainsbury’s close to you, there should be other places to take your used cartridges. Most local recycling centres (aka tips) should have a dedicated point. If not, you can visit the recyclenow website. Here, you can choose whatever item you want to recycle and the site will direct you to the nearest depot.
If you have difficulty getting out or finding somewhere local to you, you can send your empties to Staples. All you need to do is:
- Order your collection boxes free of charge from Staples.co.uk.
- Fill the boxes with empty cartridges.
- Visit the portal at https://www.staples-collect.com/ to arrange pickup of your full collection boxes.
- Follow the steps and enter the collection details.
- Collection will then be arranged within 72 hours, confirmation will be made by email or phone.
The Recycling Factory
The Recycling Factory will give you 125 Tesco Clubcard points (worth £1.25) if you recycle your old toner cartridge through them. If you don’t want the points, you can donate £1.25 to Tesco charity partners instead. Alternatively, you could opt to be paid in cash instead.
Recycling is simple. All you need to do is a print out a FREEPOST label and affix to your envelope. Post it any mailbox and await until it arrives safely. However, the cartridges accepted are limited. At the moment, they only take cartridges from:
And bear in mind that they won’t necessarily take every cartridge from the above manufacturers. You can check The Recycling Factory website to see all acceptable cartridges.
In total, you can send up to 100 cartridges back each year.
If you’re a fan of nature and birds, that you may be more inclined to donate cartridges to the RSPB. This is also arranged by the Recycling Factory and operates the same way as the Tesco scheme.
This scheme has raised over £1 million over the years and allows you to choose the beneficiary you would like to donate your ink cartridges to. You will send your empties in by post and your chosen cause will be paid quarterly.
Companies that give you cash for ink cartridges
As I mentioned above, The Recycling Factory will give you cash for your old cartridges but they are not the only company.
Other options you can look at include:
What do I need to know?
Not all the recycling options above will accept every cartridge. If using one of the charity or cash options, you will need to find out which cartridges they are interested in. This should be stated on their website. You will then need to see which cartridges you have.
First of all, you will need to know the manufacturer and whether it is black or a colour cartridge. It will usually state on the cartridge itself. If you can’t tell, then take a look at your printer manual or online.
Next, you will need to know if it is virgin or non-virgin. Virgin means that it is an original cartridge bought straight from the main supplier. A non-virgin cartridge is one that has previously been refilled or it will have a label from another company such as Tesco or Asda.
The cartridges above are all virgin as they were bought straight from HP and have their logo.
This depends on the company. You will usually need to create an account which will allow you to print off a postage label (often free). You then send the cartridges off to your chosen recycler and wait for them to get in contact.
In the case of The Recycling Factory, it takes them around a month before they come back with how much they will give you for the cartridges.
How much do they pay for old ink cartridges?
If you opt for one of the companies that pay cash, you’re probably keen to find out how much they will actually give you for each cartridge. The fact is, there is no set rule and prices change. On average though, they tend to pay between £1 and £2 per cartridge.
How will you be paid?
Normally through a direct bank transfer or by cheque (remember those?) Some companies do have a minimum threshold of how much they will send you, so you may not receive your payment until you’ve sent enough cartridges.
Any downsides to ink cartridge recycling?
Not really. If you’re donating to charity, then not only are you helping the environment, you’re also donating to a good cause.
If you’re hoping for cash, then you are relying on these companies to be honest. Once you’ve sent your cartridges, that’s it, they’re gone. If the company contacts you to say that the old ink cartridges weren’t any good and they won’t be sending you any cash, then you have to accept that.
However, if you never received money from them before, it’s not like you’re missing out anyway.
If you don’t fancy a recycling company, you could try to sell your empties on eBay. There are plenty of empty cartridges listed on there and many seem to sell. You do need to consider that you will have to pay fees though.
Is ink cartridge recycling worth it?
This is certainly worth looking into, especially if you print a lot at home. Take a look at some of the companies I listed above to see who will give you the best price for your old cartridges.
What’s the difference between an ink cartridge and a toner cartridge?
Ink cartridges contain liquid and are used in inkjet printers. Toner cartridges use power and are used in laser printers.
Can you recycle toner cartridges?
Yes. The majority of places listed above can also take toner cartridges for recycling.