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How to Recycle Ink Cartridges - Where to Recycle Ink Cartridges For Cash

5 Easy Ways to Recycle Your Used Ink Cartridges

Updated December 20, 2023

Recycling old ink cartridges is a lot easier than you might think. Here are your options:

  • Bring them to a local big box retailer like Best Buy, Costco, or Target.
  • Drop them off locally at an office supply store like Staples.
  • Check online for a recycling program that accepts them like Toner Buyer or eCycleGroup.
  • Bring them to your local recycling facility.
  • Consider refilling them; ink refill kits are available at most office supply stores

Ink cartridge recycling is now available as part of regular recycling in most municipalities. Find more info here: Recycle ink cartridges near me.  If it's not available in your area, consider using eCycle Group, a recycling program for empty ink cartridges and laser toner. If you have empty cartridges, you can send them to eCycle in exchange for cash, or a donation to the charity of your choice.

eCycle Group manages all aspects of the collection and payment process, so please reach out to them directly with any questions. The process is simple: once you have located your printer cartridges on their list, fill in the number of cartridges you are returning and calculate the amount due. Be sure to fill in your contact information and preferred method of payment.

Recycling your printer ink cartridges makes sense - it's good for the environment because it reduces the amount of plastic put into landfills. And it's good for your wallet by giving you cash back for your empty cartridges. Read the below to learn more about recycling inkjet cartridges.

Why is Recycling Empty Ink Cartridges So Important

Each year, millions of empty toner and inkjet cartridges are thrown into the trash, ending up in our planet's landfills or incinerators. Recycling these empty cartridges is easy, profitable and environmentally beneficial. It helps reduce solid waste, conserves raw materials and the energy needed to produce a new product. Most cartridges can be recycled up to six times - they are refurbished, refilled and then resold to consumers at a lower price than brand name cartridges. Recycled cartridges produce the same quality and output as new cartridges.

Ink cartridges are constructed out of plastic, petroleum-based products and take about 1,000 years to decompose. According to recent estimates, 20-40% of ink cartridges are recycled, meaning 60-80% end up in landfills. The recovery and reuse of empty printer cartridges diverts millions of cubic feet of material from waste disposal, saving us the millions of tax dollars needed to pay for additional landfill management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to recycle ink cartridges?  Best place to recycle ink and toner cartridges is....

Look at the instructions in the box of your new laser or ink cartridge to find out how to recycle your old one. Many companies will provide instructions, packaging materials and free postage if you wish to recycle your old cartridge.

The easiest way to find a recycling location is to search the Internet for organizations that accept used cartridges in exchange for cash. All sites offer pre-paid free shipping or pickup of used cartridges, and some pay up to $4 per cartridge.

Recycling used cartridges also makes a great fundraiser for schools, church groups, charities, high school sports teams and other non-profit organizations. It can also be a significant cost savings for businesses.

Some of the following recycling sites will give you the option to either take cash for your empty cartridges, or you can donate the proceeds to a charity of your choice.

Each recycling site has a list of printer cartridges that they will accept. Be sure to check that list before sending in your empty cartridges, because each organization will only pay for cartridges that they can accept - some even charge a penalty for cartridges that are not accepted. Some of the above recycling groups also offer new, recycled content and recyclable business and consumer products available at deeply discounted prices for school, office or personal use.

Start recycling your used ink cartridges today! Whether you opt to receive cash back or donate the proceeds to charity, it is the responsibility of everyone to do all we can today in order to insure the health of our planet tomorrow. 

What recycling programs do printer manufacturer's have in place?

Several inkjet printer manufacturers also maintain recycling programs. However, your recycled ink cartridge doesn't always make it around the loop. 

What is Epson's ink cartridge recycling program?

Epson, in cooperation with Funding Factory, recently launched a free recycling program for its customers. Schools and businesses can get points for collecting and remitting empty cartridges to Epson. However, the cartridges are not remanufactured or refilled. They are incinerated. To be fair, mention must be made that the incineration is at an environmentally friendly waste-to-energy plant; however, it's easy to see that Epson is the big winner in this recycling effort. Their recycling plan takes cartridges out of the hands of remanufacturing plants that can offer less expensive remanufactured compatible cartridges to the consumer.

What is HP's Ink Cartridge Recycling Program?

Hewlett Packard also has a free recycling program and they proudly announce that more than 1.8 million HP inkjet cartridges were recycled in 2003. Unfortunately, for the consumer, plastics and metal from the HP cartridges are also disassembled and made into new products. Other components are used to generate energy or are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

Does Canon have an ink cartridge recycling program?

Canon offers its customers several options for recycling canon ink cartridges, including a single return option, an up-to-eight multiple return option, and a bulk return option. Whichever you choose, a shipping label can be downloaded directly from their website. Return shipping via UPS is pre-paid by the company. It appears from many recycling and other eco-friendly programs displayed on their website, that Canon is a leader in environmental stewardship, however to date they have no recycling program in place for inkjet cartridges.

Does Lexmark have an ink cartridge recycling program?

Lexmark's recycling program is 100% free, as are the other printer manufacturer recycling programs. Customers request a kit using an online order form. Lexmark pays the postage both ways. However, there is one major difference between Lexmark's program and the programs of the other print giants. Lexmark works with Planet Ark and Close the Loop in Australia to ensure every collected cartridge is remanufactured or recycled. In addition, they have similar recycling programs in Latin American and South Africa. In Europe, every purchase of a Lexmark high-volume cartridge comes with a postage-paid recycling bag included. Now that’s closing the circle!

Do other big box retailers like Staples and Best Buy have ink recycling programs

Yes, both Best Buy and Staples offer their own ink cartridge recycling programs. To learn more, click on the links below.

Does Best Buy recycle ink cartridges?

They sure do! Ink cartridges, computers, and printers continue to be recycled for free at all Best Buy stores. Since 2009, Best Buy has voluntarily operated the most comprehensive e-waste recycling service in the United States.

Can you recycle ink cartridges at Walmart?

Yes, Walmart accepts ink cartridges and toner for recycling at all of their stores. In fact, many manufacturers actually list Walmart as an authorized recycling facility (this list includes HP, Kodak, and many others).

Does Target recycle ink?

Much like every other big box retailer, Target has a generous recycling program. Target allows consumers to recycle plastics, aluminum, glass and electronics via their recycling kiosks which are typically located at the front of their stores. These kiosks are a great place to recycle your used ink and toner cartridges.

Can you put ink cartridges in the recycle bin?

Unfortunately, the answer is "it depends". Rules and regulations around recycling ink and toner cartridges differ for every municipality in the United States. So your best bet is to check your town/city website, or give your town hall a call.

Does Walgreens recycle Ink?

Yes, much like Target and Walmart, Walgreens shares the commitment to supporting recycling. They accept back ink and toner, as well as other items like older cell phones. Typically the recycling kiosk is located at the photo counter of every Walgreens store.

How does Staples ink recycling work?

At Staples you must purchase at least $30 in ink every 180 days to qualify. Normal Staples Rewards members are able to recycle 10 cartridges per month and receive $2 each. Plus & Premier members can recycle 20 cartridges per month.

How do I dispose of HP ink cartridges?

There are a couple of options. Many online businesses (such as Toner Buyer and e Cycle Group) will pay you for your empty HP ink cartridges. Alternatively, you can return your empty HP ink to HP directly assuming you have standard, non-HP Instant Ink cartridges you want to recycle. Visit their website for more info.

What can I do with full, unused HP ink cartridges?

Bring them to Office Depot, Walmart, Staples, or Best Buy. Even though the cartridges aren't empty, these recycling programs will accept them back. Unfortunately, not every HP product may be recycled through the program. Check HP's website for the full list of recyclable cartridges.

What can you do with empty ink cartridges?

You can recycle them! And these are the best options for making sure they are actually recycled: (1) Bring them to a local office supply store. (2) Drop them at your local recycling center. (3) Refill them!

What can you do with old printers, are they recyclable?

Yes, you can recycle them! Most big box retailers like Best Buy have collection boxes located in stores where you can drop off your old printer to be properly recycled. Alternatively many town and city recycling programs allow you to drop your printer in your recycle bin. Check your municipality's website to confirm whether or not your town will accept them.

What are some creative ways to use old ink cartridges that doesn't involve actually recycling them?

Repurposing used ink cartridges can be a fun and creative way to give them a new life and keep them out of the landfill. Here are some creative ideas for repurposing used ink cartridges:
  1. Mini Planters: Clean and decorate the ink cartridges, then use them as tiny planters for succulents or small herbs. They can add a touch of greenery to your desk or windowsill.

  2. Desk Organizer: Arrange several ink cartridges together in a box or holder to create a unique and functional desk organizer for pens, pencils, paper clips, and other office supplies.

  3. Mini Storage Containers: Fill cleaned cartridges with small items like beads, buttons, or even spices in the kitchen. Secure the top with a cork or cap for easy storage.

  4. Seed Starters: Cut the top off the cartridge, fill it with soil, and plant seeds inside. The clear plastic allows you to monitor the seed's growth, and once they sprout, you can transplant them to a larger pot or garden.

  5. Kids' Art Supplies: Rinse out the ink residue and use the cartridge to hold small amounts of paint, glue, or other art supplies for kids' craft projects.

  6. Cable Organizer: Stand the cartridges upright and thread cables (like charging cords or earphones) through them to prevent tangling and keep your workspace tidy.

  7. Gift Containers: Decorate the cartridges and use them as small gift containers for tiny trinkets, candies, or jewelry.

  8. Christmas Tree Ornaments: Decorate the cartridges with festive colors and hang them on your Christmas tree as unique and eco-friendly ornaments.

  9. Mobile Stand: Cut a slit or groove into the cartridge to hold your smartphone or tablet at a convenient viewing angle on your desk.

  10. DIY Stamp Pad: Fill an empty cartridge with ink or paint and use it as a DIY stamp pad for small rubber stamps.

Remember to clean the cartridges thoroughly before repurposing them and ensure they are free of any ink residue. Get creative and let your imagination guide you to find unique ways to give your used ink cartridges a new purpose!