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© Sergey Nivens

Reuse for a brighter future

Every year in Europe 60% to 70% of empty toner and inkjet cartridges end up being incinerated or landfilled. A shame really, because around 87% could be reused, but the companies that make new cartridges don’t want you to reuse them.

The good news is that up to 25% are being reused, but if we could double this, we could create more jobs here in Europe, we could eliminate any cartridges going to landfill.


The sea turtle picture is very emotive but reducing the volume of plastics we produce is crucial to have a better, less polluted world.


Here at ETIRA, we think cartridge reuse is the right way to help

1.  Reuse is less expensive

If we landfill cartridges or just recycle them, it means we are still buying new ones, which costs either us, our employers or the planet more. Instead, we can reuse them and save ourselves the cost of having to landfill or recycle them. But don’t stop at cartridges, we can buy used printers and copiers that often have many years of use remaining. You save and at the same time conserve resources.

2.  Reuse uses less energy

Making new cartridges, even from recycled materials requires more energy.

Recycling used anything is energy intensive. You need to heat it until it melts and then makes it into whatever it becomes. Sometimes hazardous chemicals need to be added to the recycling process to make plastics less brittle. It is inevitable that a lot of embedded energy lost every time we recycle rather than reuse these items.

3.  Reuse causes less (or no) pollution

Manufacturing new products and even recycling require more energy to accomplish, and it comes with its own share of pollution. Reusing cartridges doesn’t create pollution. Reusing cartridges can reduce the carbon footprint by up to 65%.

4.  Reuse puts you in charge

Buying new cartridges from the printer manufacturer is incredibly expensive, so we all think twice before we buy replacements. Reused cartridges offer excellent quality and will last just as long as a new cartridge and are invariably less expensive. Something we all appreciate.

5.  Reuse creates more jobs

If we double reuse in Europe, we could generate 16,000+ more artisan skilled jobs. People that pay taxes and contribute to the reuse economy.

6.  Reuse is better than…

You can find incredibly cheap single-use cartridges on Amazon and eBay. The price is so low, you think it’s a bargain, but it isn’t. These cheap cartridges often contain banned substances, and the companies may not be registered under the WEEE directive. They are not paying their share of the EU wide WEEE recycling costs, which can be around €8 per cartridge. It is easy to spot the so-called “free riders” they don’t want to take your empty cartridge back cartridges and can’t give you details of their WEEE registration details.

For visitors with colour blindness, the above text is in red, as in STOP, just like the traffic light.

7.  Reuse for a brighter future

    • If your buying new cartridges from the printer manufacturer, consider if you need a new cartridge, or will a reused one do?
    • Don’t send the empty cartridge for recycling, contact a cartridge reuse company who will happily reuse it.
    • Definitely, don’t put it in the bin and let it end up in a landfill.
    • And if you did buy one of those cheap cartridges, it may need specialist disposal.
    • If you think your printer is out of date, just print a test page. You might be surprised how few pages you have printed and how much life is left in your printer.
    • Remember if you put off buying a printer for one year, you can help reduce the number of printers that are being manufactured.

Want to know more?

Contact one of our members; you can find their details in our members directory

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