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Printer cartridges: Should I refill or recycle? Know these 3 things

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With so much emphasis being placed on protecting the environment from pollutants, the national conversation is very much focused on recycling anything and everything that can be repurposed. From household waste to office supplies, it’s important to ensure that anything that can be recycled should be. However, this is much more of a prevalent concern for business owners as they have an obligation to ensure that they’re doing their bit to protect the environment.

Despite the fact that there are a number of office supplies and stationery items that are purchased each month for businesses, one of the more pressing items that should be recycled are printer cartridges. With many office-based businesses using printers each day, it should come as no surprise to learn that printer cartridges can be fully used within a short space of time and several cartridges may be required each month.

As such, one might wonder whether it’s a more suitable option to retain the actual printer cartridge and refill it with ink or to buy new ones and recycle the old ones. As such, here we discuss whether it’s more suitable to refill or recycle old printer cartridges.

Cost Difference Is Marginal

Whilst it may seem unlikely to envisage that there wouldn’t be too much difference in cost when purchasing new printer cartridges rather than refilling them, there are many initiatives that will offer discounted new cartridges to those that opt to recycle them. This is simply because such initiatives ensure that the empty printer cartridges can be reused for myriad different purposes and the cost of new cartridges is often subsidized by manufacturers to encourage recycling.

In fact, as much as 97% of an empty toner cartridge can be recycled and reapplied in new and innovative ways, which is why recycling empty cartridges are highly advised over refilling them. By doing this, as a business owner, you’ll be able to ensure that your printing needs don’t come at the cost of damaging the environment and you’ll hardly notice the cost difference either.

Refilling Can Be Tricky

In short, recycling your old cartridges and exchanging them for brand new ones is a far easier option than attempting to refill them just to save a bit of money. While it is true that buying refill kits can be a cheaper option than buying new, you also have to consider the time that it will take to refill your empty cartridge as well as the difficulty of actually doing it.

Not only is refilling your empty cartridges a relatively tricky feat, but it can also be quite a messy task too, which is why it’s a far simpler option to just purchase new printer cartridges and recycling your old ones. In addition to this, refill kits aren’t necessarily universal and can sometimes require specific kits for certain types of the cartridge so if you regularly use different cartridges then purchasing several refill kits can quickly become costly.

Safe Disposal

By purchasing new printer cartridges and recycling empty ones, as a business owner, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re doing your bit to protect the environment. Should you fail to recycle empty cartridges and instead simply discarding them as you would with any other non-recyclable trash, it will mean that the plastics will be sent to landfill where it could take anywhere between 500 and 1,000 years to fully break down.

That’s why some printer cartridge suppliers have partnered with ethical recyclers. These provide pioneering processing technologies to ensure that every printer cartridge can be given a new lease of life, without damaging the environment.


In summary, whilst refilling your empty printer cartridges may offer a slight cost-saving, it’s a far more suitable option to purchase new ones and recycle your old ones. Not only can refilling your empty cartridges be a tricky endeavor, but you’re also preventing the plastics being reused for more innovative purposes so it’s generally advised that you should safely dispose of empty cartridges and purchase new ones, rather than refilling them.


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