So you’ve made the decision to recycle your old used ink cartridges, but do you know what actually happens to them once you’ve dropped them off with the recycling company?
It’s a fascinating process which not many people know about – but it helps clear acres of valuable space in landfill each year. Additionally, by recycling your used printer cartridges you’re saving the lives of many animals, reducing the emission of dangerous greenhouse gases and preventing the contamination of toxic chemicals which can leak into soil surrounding landfills and cause harm to humans and wildlife. Are you interested in knowing what happens to your cartridges and how they are used in the world around you? Take a look at the advice from Cartridges Direct to find out more:
Regular pick-ups are made at your drop off station (stores including Harvey Normal, Office Depot or your local Australia Post if you choose to recycle using the Planet for Ark or Close the Loop schemes). Lorries arrive and take containers full of cartridges to a nearby recycling plant which is able to process them. Not all recycling plants can do this as it is a specific process – and there are even some factories (like Close the Loop’s specialist plant) dedicated only to sorting and dismantling ink cartridges.
One the cartridges arrive at the plant, they are sorted into piles by hand depending on what type and make they are. Different manufacturers have slightly different ways of making their cartridges and sometimes they use different materials, so the recycling plant will factor this in when making sure that they can make use of the whole of the cartridge effectively. Some manufacturers have their very own recycling plants to process their cartridges specifically, as they then personally re-use the materials to make new ones. In this case, the cartridges are sent back to them so that they can separately process and recycle them in-house.
Once sorted into groups, the cartridges are then broken down accordingly for their useful parts. This is a job often carried out by clever machinery (like Close the Loop’s ‘Green Machine’) – which separates each usable element from the cartridge ready to be recycled.
Now the parts have been properly sorted and separated, they can be sent off to be processed – or processed in-house if the plant has the capability. Depending on your area these can be sent to different plants – but if you use the Planet for Ark scheme they will be sent to their partner Close the Loop’s specialist unit for the final stages of their journey.
Making something new
Now the individual parts of your old ink cartridge are ready to be made into something new. The plastic will be sent to a processing plant where it will be melted down ready to be incorporated into a wide range of products – not just ink cartridges. You can often find pens, mouse mats, disposable cups and pencil cases made from recycled plastics, too. The remaining toner in the cartridge is actually used in an innovative paving product called TonerPave. The metal parts will also be processed and used again. Any other remaining parts are processed together and used to create something called ‘eWood’, a synthetic timber which can be used just as natural wood can for a range of projects such as furniture, sheds and fencing products.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can do your bit for the environment with Planet for Ark and Close the Loop, or purchasing ink cartridges from an environmentally friendly source, then take a look at Cartridges Direct.