What to Do With Old Ink Cartridges

By Jeannie Knudson

According to Ryan Vero, executive vice president of Office Max, 300-million ink cartridges are thrown out annually. Ink cartridges are a part of our daily lives, at home, work and school. Unfortunately, many individuals are unsure what to do with used ink cartridges once their empty, and most ink cartridges end up in landfills. There are places you can donate or recycle your old ink cartridges at no cost, or even for profit.


Recycle your ink cartridges with one of the nationwide recycling programs aimed at reducing landfill waste. Many of these companies accept ink cartridges and other used electronic products such as cell phones, CDs, printers and computers. Freecycling.com lists companies and non-profit agencies that accept ink cartridges from individuals and businesses. Many of these agencies offer pick-up, pre-paid mailing labels and some companies offer cash for your donated ink cartridges.Check with retailers and manufacturers to find out if they take used ink cartridges at their store or by mail. Hewlett Packard, Staples, Epson and Office Depot allow you to either mail in your ink cartridges, or drop them off at an in-store kiosk. Some of these manufactures and retailers will reimburse you for the cartridge with cash or store credit.


Donate your old ink cartridges to charities and other non-profit agencies to help less fortunate individuals, medical research foundations or military personnel stationed overseas. Before donating to a charity, check with the Better Business Bureau or IRS to make sure that the agency is a legitimate charity.Operation Shoebox works with recycling centers to collect old ink cartridges to help support military troops stationed around the world. Many of the cartridges are recycled or refurbished for reuse and the proceeds are used to send care packages to military personnel.Call your favorite charity to find out if they accept ink cartridge donations and where you can drop them off. Some charities collaborate with recycling companies or corporations to accept used ink cartridges and other electronic items with the proceeds going to charity.Ask local schools, libraries, care centers or other community organizations if they accept ink cartridges for fundraising. Much like donating cartridges to a charity, these organizations recycle the cartridges and use the proceeds to help with funding.


Your last good option is to use refillable ink cartridges. Not only will this practice reduce waste, it will save you money, as the cost of having an ink cartridge refilled is inexpensive in comparison to buying a new cartridge. Many office supply stores offer this service for a small fee. Additionally, some computer or office supply stores sell do-it-yourself cartridge refill kits.