How to Recycle Empty Ink and Toner Cartridges

Three Methods:Recycling Cartridges LocallyRecycling for Cash or Charity DonationsReducing Waste

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. 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.

Method 1
Recycling Cartridges Locally

  1. 1
    Call a local office supplies store. If you remember where you originally purchased your printer and/or ink cartridge, call them to find out their policy for returning empty cartridges. You could also call any local office supply store in the area. Many will recycle used cartridges. This is one of the easiest way to return cartridges locally.[1]
  2. 2
    Check for reward options. Many major retailers have incentive programs to encourage customers to send back empty cartridges. In exchange for doing this, some will give you store credit in the form of cash for a future purchase or rewards points which may work similarly. Others may offer a discounted price on the next cartridge.[2]
    • Get all the details upfront as there may be limitations on how many you can donate during a given timeframe.
    • Check for any requirements they have regarding recycled cartridges. They may only take certain brands, and may not accept reused or previously recycled cartridges.
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    Check with your local recycling center. There's a chance your local recycling center may take ink and toner cartridges. Call the center ahead of time or check their website to check out the policy. Recycling at a local center is another quick and convenient way to recycle ink and toner cartridges.
    • See if there are any requirements regarding how cartridges and toners should be packaged prior to recycling.

Method 2
Recycling for Cash or Charity Donations

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    Look for a cartridge buy back site online. There are many websites in which you can recycle cartridges by selling them to buyers who intend to reuse them. Sites like the E-Cycle group and Toner Buyer will pay anywhere from 25 cents to $4 for empty toners or ink cartridges. This is a great way to help the planet while making some extra money.[3]
    • Most sites list their prices online. If you agree to the price, you can e-mail giving an administrator an overview of the types of cartridges and toners you have.
    • If the buyer is interested in your toner or cartridge, he or she will send you a prepaid postage label. From here, all you have to do is package your toners and cartridges and then mail them at your local post office.
  2. 2
    Sell cartridges on eBay. You can also auction off cartridges on eBay. Depending on the demand on a given day, you may get a better price via auction sites. All you have to do is create an eBay account and then advertise your toners and cartridges. You can set a starting price and then allow users to bid.[4]
    • You'll make more money if you list details. Talk about the manufacturer, model numbers, and whether the toners are black, color, or a combination. You should also include a picture to show your products are of decent quality.
    • Cartridges and toners may go for a higher price if they've never been reused before. If your cartridges are new, include this in your description.
  3. 3
    Create an account with Recycle4Charity. Recycle4Charity allows you to send in empty ink and toner cartridges for free. You will receive some cash for your donations, but a portion of the cash made from your ink and toner cartridges will then go to a charity supported by the site. As of 2016, Recycle4Charity is supporting Smile Train, an organization that helps pay for surgeries for children born with cleft lips.[5]
    • Recycle4Charity provides you with boxes with prepaid package labels. You put your ink and toner cartridges into the boxes, and send them to the site. Once the credit on your account has reached $25, you will receive a check. Recycle4Charity accepts donations from anywhere in the US.
    • If you want to get some money while helping a great charity, this may be the right organization for you. You can also make a small amount of cash over time if you regularly donate to Recycle4Charity.
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    Try Empties4Cash. Empties4Cash is another organization that offers cash or charity donations for empty ink and toner cartridges. You receive a prepaid shipping box and can mail your donations to the Empties4Cash headquarters. You can choose to either receive cash back for your donations or donate the money to one of the charities supported through Empties4Cash.[6]
    • If you would prefer to donate, you can find a list of charities Empties4Cash supports on their website. You can choose a charity you find personally meaningful.
    • You can e-mail Empties4Cash through their website. Include your name and address. If you're donating to charity, include the charity you would like to support. You should then receive a box through the mail you can mail in to the Empties4Cash headquarters.
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    Send empties to Cartridges for Kids. If you're interested in donating cartridges to charities, Cartridges for Kids donates proceeds made from recycled cartridges to schools and non-profit organizations. As with other charities, you can send in your empty ink and toner cartridges. Once you've accrued at least $25 in donations, you will receive a check from the company. A portion of the money your donations made will go towards schools and non-profits supported through Cartridges for Kids.[7]
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    Donate to local charities. Donating to local charities is also always an option. You can look into local charities in your area and see if there are any recycling drives. See if the charity in question accepts ink and toners as recyclables. This can be a quick way to assure your products are recycles while helping a worthy cause.
    • Keep your eye out for donations boxes around town. If a certain charity is having a recycling drive, you may find donations boxes asking for recyclables. Make sure the boxes explicitly say they take empty toner cartridges before placing your donations in the box.

Method 3
Reducing Waste

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    Reuse old ink and toner cartridges. You can recycle ink cartridges on your own through simple reuse. Most office supplies stores will refill old ink or toner cartridges for a small fee. This is usually cheaper than purchasing new cartridges and allows you to cut back on your carbon footprint.[8]
  2. 2
    Use less ink and paper. You should also work on using less ink and paper in general. This can cut back on waste, and will result in your cartridges lasting longer. Try to read documents on screen. When possible, opt to fill out forms online. Go for electronic tickets when traveling, and have itineraries pulled up on your phone instead of printed on paper.
  3. 3
    Buy recycled cartridges. You can purchase ink and toner cartridges that have been remanufactured online or at local outlets where they are sold. Many people prefer to buy recycled cartridges to reduce waste, and because they are often cheaper. Usually, recycled cartridges work well. However, make sure to take certain precautions before making a purchase.[9]
    • Read reviews of any company you do business with. It takes some work to repurpose cartridges, and some companies do so better than others.
    • See if there is a return policy or warranty. Companies invested in quality usually offer returns or warranties upfront.


  • Don't be afraid to ask for cash or rewards for your empty cartridges. Empties can be very valuable and you should be rewarded for returning them.
  • Big office supply companies like Staples, Office Max, WB Mason, etc. offer rewards for certain cartridges, but not all. Check with them about specific rewards programs offers for returning empties.
  • Disposing of empties with a certified electronics recycling company directly or through a computer and electronics disposal event is a viable alternative, although you should ask them what they do with anything that you dispose of with them - not just your empty cartridges.

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Categories: Home Organization & Recycling