What to do with empty ink and toner cartridges?

Many of us have this doubt when our ink or toner cartridges run out. The answer may seem obvious: recycle them!

The new directive 2012/19 / EU of July 4, 2012 that has just entered into force this past summer of 2018 joins forces so that all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) are recycled widely and correctly. That is why it is responsible to the manufacturers of the recovery, in the last stage of life, of these items when they are transformed into waste or, failing that, their valorization so that these resources can be conserved in the future.

But … how are these types of products recycled?

What to do with the finished toners?

The activity of printing involves the implementation of a series of devices: printer, toner, paper, USB memory, Wi-Fi connection … All of them are necessary to carry out quality work and have guarantees. Thus, when it ends we must also take into account other aspects, such as the one that involves the recycling of printer cartridges that no longer serve us.

In the case of the interior of these objects, the remains of the cartridges must be recycled because of eliminating them naturally of these are highly harmful to the ozone layer, in addition to the components that make it up – plastics, fibers, labeling-

In this sense, it is essential to make known to you, the readers, some effects attached to the ink cartridges of a printer. And is that, as with toners, these are pollutants. This polluting component is present both inside and outside components.

But how to recycle the ink cartridges? A common way of doing it, widely spread by municipalities and other local institutions, is to establish clean-point locations or recycling centers, where citizens can deliver the cartridges that they will no longer use and these organizations are responsible for carrying out the recycling process.

In the same way, other institutions, both public and private, also encourage the recycling of ink cartridges. This is the case of schools, institutes and universities, on the public side as well as cinemas and restaurants, private. Even in these latter cases, the promotion of recycling is rewarded with discounts on menus or free tickets to watch a movie.

Finally, companies also encourage the recycling of cartridges. In fact, I’m sure many of you have seen spaces destined to the deposit of these objects, which are later moved to a nearby clean point to be recycled coherently.

Taking into account this policy of recycling cartridges and toners is fundamental for the care of the environment and for making responsible use of these products. The same, treated correctly, will allow us to perform our work with quality and guarantees while respecting universal values.
Where to recycle exactly

In the street we do not find specific containers for this type of waste. Normally the containers that we usually find on public roads are:

Paper and paperboard

It is also possible to find deposits in some commercial areas for:

Light bulbs and fluorescent

Fixed clean points

But what is not so frequent is finding where to leave the empty cartridges. For this type of waste and others we will have to go to the Clean Point or Green Point of our town.

Majority of all city councils in large cities or towns have a recycling center or a clean point, with the entry of the new regulations, all are obliged to collect and properly manage all AEE items, not only toners and cartridges, but all electronic items, including from the mobile or tablet to the fridge or TV.

Yes, each clean point can have its rules, type schedules or days, and also limit quantities of products that are collected. For example, at the clean points of Madrid, a maximum of 4 toners per person per day is collected.

Taking into account that the transfer of waste is at the expense of the interested person, by their own means, it is interesting to manage well and take everything we have to recycle at once.

In these places we can take many, if not all, the waste that we can generate in our homes from oil, appliances, fluorescent tubes and of course our toner and ink cartridges.

If you do not know the location of these centers, in the following link you can find the one closest to your home, it is a very useful link, where you can find the address closest to you to deliver the used toners or cartridges.


First we have to select what type of waste we want to throw (since not all Clean Points admit the same waste). Then we select our province and then our population or if it does not appear, whichever is closest.

Next, the web shows us the recycling points found with a link that we can access and find information regarding the address, telephone, time and types of products we can take.

In general, the most common products that can be brought to these facilities are:

Consumer electronic devices: photo cameras, DVD players, toys, ...
Mobile phones and tablets
Appliances: washing machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, refrigerators, ...
Ink cartridges and printer toner
Car batteries
Motor oil
Clothing and footwear used.
Fluorescent tubes and special lamps
Vegetable oil.
Sprays and sprays.
Garden waste or pruning remains
Paints, varnishes, glues and solvents
Furniture: doors, mattresses, furniture, ...
Metal scrap (plumbing, for example)
Televisions, computers, laptops, ...
Lotions and cosmetics
CDs, DVDs, diskettes, video tapes, ...
Mercury thermometers.
Cleaning products (oven cleaner, caustic soda, ...).
Photochemical products
Organic material
Window glass

In the case of not being sure if we can carry a certain type of waste, it is better to call and inform us from the Clean Point itself.
Mobile clean points

In addition to these fixed sites there are also Mobile Clean Points. This concept, among other reasons, arose because normally the fixed Clean Points are located in the outskirts of the cities, which can complicate and complicate the task of recycling by the population. In most cases it is necessary to travel by car and not everyone has it.

Mobile Clean Points basically have the same functions as fixed installations with the peculiarity that they are itinerant and that they bring recycling to the center of the cities or key points of the same in order to facilitate the tasks of recycling to the population.

Only 30% of users recycle their toners

As the European Union says, we should be able to go “towards a circular economy; a zero waste program for Europe “.

One of the basic activities of the offices and the spaces destined to the labor activity are the impressions. This action, regardless of the type of printing equipment used to carry out and the purpose of the same, involves a high consumption of ink devices.

Hence, experts and citizens aware of the environment demand the implementation of measures designed for this purpose, because do we really know what is the exact quantity of ink and toner cartridges that are currently recycled? Is this data significant or unimportant?

For locals and strangers the reality in this sense is quite crude, since only three out of ten users recycle these devices. The data has been extracted from an analysis carried out by the company that distributes alternative consumables for printers.

This organization, also, points out that 60% of this amount of recycled printing material comes from small and large companies, so the degree of private recycling falls to four out of ten components that are recycled today.

For those responsible for the report, in addition, the low data relative to the recycling of printing components by individual users indicates the lack of awareness that exists in society today as well as the lack of accessibility to specialized recycling centers or warehouses.

In this sense, the executive director of the organization, Pedro Martínez, stressed that the work of recycling is “very important” for the preservation of the environment. So, although they currently receive a significant amount of empty cartridges and toners, it is necessary to “become much more aware” in this regard.

In the same line, this manager has emphasized that in our country are used every year about 32 million cartridges. Of them, only 20% of the total of those used is recovered. A very low result compared to the recycling policies that follow l Only 30% of users recycle their toners manufacturers.

That is why this organization has developed an awareness campaign, from which each cartridge that is taken to stores involves the donation by the user and this company of an amount for the Isidora Pertusa Foundation.

Hence, these professionals remind users that at a European level, both companies and municipalities have recycling programs for toner and ink cartridges. In this regard, Germany is the country with the highest percentage of recycled printing components, as the document is the result of the company’s report.

Effects of recycling

In another order of matters, experts remind users of ink and toner cartridges, both from companies and individuals, that the environmental impact in the decomposition process of a toner or cartridge is high and durable. In fact, these objects take approximately one hundred years to decompose in their entirety.

That is why there is so much emphasis on the need to recycle those components that are likely to be part of this process. A trend that many companies have already opted for but which needs to be extended to 100% of the Spanish productive and business fabric.

Artistic recycling or functions of recycled cartridges.

We often talk in this blog of the importance of recycling ink cartridges. But, have you stopped to think about what functionalities could be developed apart from reusing them? Although right now there is no alternative to mind, the truth is that there are many options.

For that reason, in this post we are going to make reference to some of them. We are convinced that you will be noticed. And we start with one of the most genuine, as is the percussion. Yes, you heard correctly, the ink cartridges are used to create music. Everything will depend on your hearing and the possibilities in what respects the tones you want to achieve. Just keep the rhythm on a surface – which can vary from a wooden table, to a keyboard or a can of soda – and start moving the box.

But there do not finish the functions that can have a cartridge. Can you imagine a lamp made from these elements? It is possible, and in fact you would not be the first to develop this particular invention, recyclable where they are. It is enough to go accumulating cartridges and find a solid base where to place them. The arrangement and above all, the location of such a particular contraption is your business.

And another very curious option to use the ink cartridges is to configure with them boxes in which to deposit different elements. The tools are the busiest example, because its dimension makes it a very useful object to place nails, thumbtacks and objects of these characteristics.

However, more things can still be done. Surely many readers are aware of the fashion that exists to make bracelets based on small size rubber. Well, these ink cartridges serve perfectly to house said rubber bands, classifying them by their different colors.

Thus, between music, light and ways to store objects we conclude that ink cartridges have more applications than we thought.

And the cartridges can also become true works of art where, most of the time we just have to wait for our consumables to be spent and also have a bit of originality, time and patience.

If you do not get inspiration, on the internet you will surely find more than one idea that you can recreate yourself or that you can use to start your own project.

If you have not seen it clearly, try thinking about it under the light of one of these two lamps made with used cartridges.

It seems to us a very original idea to have a totally functional, original lamp, made by ourselves and that probably nobody of our friends or acquaintances will have.

And what do you think of this pencil holder? Simple but practical. It is a project that will not take us only a short time. It is enough with three or four cartridges (depending on the size they have) and join them to create a triangular shape, as in the photo, or square in the case of four cartridges.

From this rudimentary form we have our pencil holder ready. But from there, we can improve it by covering the perimeter with some design on paper, plastic or rubber eva (foam) that we like and give it our personal touch. Also, in the bottom part we can install a base and thus make sure that no utensil is left.

And if yours are the crafts, but with capital letters, let yourself be inspired by the works made by Faith Pearson.

Recreation of the Enterprise ship of the mythical Star Trek series. Surely Spock would find it fascinating.

Here we can see Godzilla destroying imposing buildings built with cartridges.

recreation of the scene of the climb to the Empire State Building of cartridges, yes, King Kong.

Recycling ink cartridges and toner is very important, but so is the printer when it gets old, do not miss this article.

Author: Ángel García

Responsible for the content in this blog, aimed at helping users of business printers. I have been selling printers, ink cartridges and toner in A4toner since 2009. Luckily I am in touch with printers every day, to test the quality of our cartridges and to make new analysis or reviews to help our customers choose the best printers. With technical training and devotion as I love printing The printer is today the most important tool for the free dissemination of ideas and knowledge, (the internet is not private, so it is not free), to be able to print documents with a printer, as the Chinese did in the 11th century BC with porcelain, the Romans with clay or Gutenberg with the printing press becomes something almost magical and at the same time very cheap and accessible to anyone.) You can see more information about this company at: Who we are?

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