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Think Ink

May 13, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

Many people are unaware of what happens to our trash once it leaves our doorstep. I spoke recently to a representative from National Cartridge Supply (NCS), an ink and toner supplier/recycler, about what really happens to some of our waste—specifically empty ink and toner cartridges. We’ve all heard in the media recently about the problem of e-waste, but this is one company that is actually doing something about it by not just cutting back on the amount of landfill waste, but eliminating it while saving their customers money to boot.

First I’d like to say why it is so important that this waste be handled better than it has been: People, including young babies and children, die from the toxic ink and toner waste. In 2009 over three hundred million empty cartridges were dumped in critical landfills, poisoning waste streams. Toner residue can be toxic. If each empty cartridge contained just one ounce of residue, that’s the equivalent of having unnecessarily dumped nearly 19 million pounds of potentially toxic waste into our landfills and waste streams.

To recycle these empty cartridges, they need to be disassembled completely. You can bet that many cartridges mailed back, picked up by “recyclers”, or dropped off at office superstores end up in landfills and are not recycled at all. So what to do?

If you use toner and ink for personal use in your home, Cartridge World is a retailer that refills empty cartridges. They do not refill all types, and they are not a certified recycler for cores that are completely spent, but they are a better option than dropping off your empties at a Big Box store and buying new ones.

And for businesses, NCS is a truly green company committed to ending suffering and pollution caused by imaging materials. They have supply and collection programs that will save businesses and institutions money and save us all from the gross amount of toxic waste inadvertently produced by users of these products.

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