How Printing Ink Impacts Environment And Our Health

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How Printing Ink Impacts Environment And Our Health


The society in which we find ourselves today is a wasteful one. After purchasing products, most of us will just throw them away. It is evident that many people are still, struggling to get used to the recycling concept. In order to sustain a greener future, it is important that we look at particular ways of becoming more economical.

This is what will enable us to avoid pumping a lot of dangerous gas into the air. While it is not the most obvious way to be more economical, recycling ink cartridges can significantly reduce carbon waste output.

Did you know that it takes up to 450 years for a printer cartridge to decompose when chucked into a landfill?

Ink cartridges can have a big negative on the environment.

The following are some of the ways in which these cartridges impact on our environment:

The Inescapable Truth

Some of us, from the ordinary man to the more established corporations, it is evident, make an effort of recycling ink cartridges. While more than 2.5 million cartridges are recycled every year, a whopping 10 million cartridges find their way in landfills.

Based on Planet Ark report published in 2006, should 18 million ink cartridges had been sent to landfills, it would have led to a waste equivalent to 3000 tons of plastic, 400 tons of aluminum, 2500 ferrous metals and 26 kg of precious metals. In addition to all this, the 3000 tons of plastic will take more than a century to decompose.

Have you ever taken a moment to look at what your printer cartridge is made of?

Its packaging is made using timber, crude oil is used to make the plastic part while steel is made from iron ore. As you can see, it involves a big wastage of raw materials and fossil fuels.

Because plastics have not been around for a long period of time, it is a major worry to people especially given the quantity of plastics that are found in landfills. Soon, we will have an issue of space to contend with.

Nature becomes poisonous

Waste emanating from ink cartridge does not just sit in landfills and do nothing but interacts with other elements and make nature to become toxic. For starters, wild animals tend to mistake plastic to be food and plastic can also destroy the animal’s natural habitat.

Ink cartridges can also contaminate water and even poison the soil. If this happens, it can destroy the ecosystem for several decades to come. Given that materials used to make printer cartridges are not biodegradable, it spells doom for both the flora and fauna as they won’t have a future.

It is important that we act quickly in order not to punish future generations for years to come. At the moment, it may not appear as if we have a problem on our hands. However, if this continues the way it is being done right now, expect that we will have massive problem in 450 years’ time. In fact, the very human race is greatly threatened.

Some of the effects of this environmental degradation include the possibility of animals becoming extinct, the ground becoming unusable and water not only becoming contaminated but also running out of supply.

All these tend to point to the kind of dark and dank dystopic world portrayed in movies all the time. Several recycling plants all over the world offer places to recycle ink printer ink and even offer reward points to incentivize recycling.

This way, you not only get to win but Mother Nature also wins.

Environmental Problems leading to cancer

  • Plastic used in the manufacture of the outside part of a printer’s cartridge could contain not only dioxins but also other chemicals that are equally hazardous to human health.
  • This means that it is very important to dispose of printer cartridges properly so as to avoid health and environmental consequences of failing to dispose them correctly.
  • In order to dispose of cartridges properly, you need to get in touch with your nearest recycling facility to find out if they are recycling printer cartridges. Another option is to contact your local council to tell you where the local collection points are located.

How to correctly dispose of cartridges

Laser Cartridges:

Before laser cartridges are recycled, they are first taken apart before being re-manufactured. After that, the broken parts are replaced and then refilled with ink and toner.

It is much less costlier to buy re-manufactured laser cartridges since they cost just a third of what an original one would cost. This means that by buying reused cartridges, you get to save money and also help the environment.

By just re-manufacturing a single laser cartridge, one liter of oil is saved and the materials do not also end up in landfills.

Inkjet Cartridges:

There are lots of companies that pay some money for ink cartridges. Also, several charities are involved in collecting cartridges as a way of raising funds for various projects. Any ink cartridges that are collected are cleaned and then refilled with ink. If it has a broken part, it is replaced and then resold.

Refilled/Compatible Cartridges:

At the moment, unfortunately, not a lot of opportunity exists for recycling compatible or refilled cartridges. You can get in touch with the manufacturer to check if the company refills or recycles them.


Our environment is under attack from various elements. When disposed of incorrectly in the landfills, wastes mix with and intoxicate both water and air that we breathe. Ink cartridges are no different. They also pollute the environment and can even cause cancer when disposed of improperly.


This is why it is very important to take used cartridges to collection points so that they can be recycled. This will save our environment and also ensure that future generations of both humans and animals are not wiped off from the face of the earth.