Every year over 18 million printer cartridges end up in Australian landfill: that represents 34 cartridges a minute, and a net weight of about 5,000 tonnes per year.
But unlike many waste products in the IT industry, something is being done about it.
Of the total cartridges sold in Australia each year, about 10 percent are recycled thanks to Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, a campaign organized by the not for profit environmental organization Planet Ark; Close the Loop, an unlisted public company dedicated to recycling toner and inkjet cartridges; and with the backing of leading printer vendors Brother, Canon, HP, Lexmark, Konica Minolta, Epson and Panasonic.
Of those cartridges recycled each year, half of the laser cartridges are returned to the original manufacturer for their own component recovery programs, while the remaining volume is recycled by Close the Loop in its Melbourne facility
The main outcome of Close the Loop's recycling is a wood substitute known as eWood. The eWood is currently sold into councils and a variety of other markets, such as the landscaping industry, requiring timber substitutes. It also ensures Close the Loop achieves its goal of zero waste to landfill.
The following slideshow illustrates the printer cartridge recycling process from start to finish.