There are plenty of local and nationwide services that recycle, or better yet, reuse your empty cartridges, and we've put together this guide to help find the best solution for you.
If you have full / unused cartridges made by your original printer manufacturer and still sealed in their packaging, try our full cartridge guide instead:
This will raise much more for good causes, and your full cartridges are reused instead of just recycled as empties.
If your empty cartridges have enough value, it's best for them to be reused to raise funds for good causes instead of recycled as scrap — they're refilled and sold as 'remanufactured' cartridges, which uses much less oil and CO2.
Supports The Against Malaria Foundation, who distribute anti-mosquito nets to save lives by preventing the spread of malaria.
They have free recycling programmes for empty ink and toner cartridges — though you will need to check the models of your specific items to work out if they have enough value to cover costs and raise funds.
If your used cartridges are not eligible for Cartridges4Charity's service, then it's unlikely that you can raise funds for any charity from your items — instead, try these alternative recycling options, which will at least help the environment.
Most printer manufacturers offer free collections or freepost labels for their branded cartridges as a courtesy to you as their customer, and some include a returns label in the new cartridge's box.
You must only send genuine, original cartridges made by that manufacturer — and not any recycled, refilled, "compatible" or "remanufactured" cartridges made by another manufacturer.
You can likely find a local shop or a council-run civic amenity site with cartridge collection boxes near you — they normally take any type of cartridge for free if you are a household user.
These options all take both genuine, original cartridge types, and the recycled / compatible versions, so are good if you're struggling to find another place to send them.
If you are a business user, these options are unlikely to be useful for you unless you only have a couple to recycle.
Ask your supplier or retailer if they can take back your empties as a courtesy to you as their customer.
They will want to do future business with you, so some will offer to recycle on a one-for-one basis when you buy new from them.
If you have a managed print contract, they should offer free recycling as a part of the service.
If you buy from a bricks and mortar store, and the cartridges are for household or mixed home/office use, under the WEEE directive, retailers must provide a free recycling option for your cartridges — either accepting them in store, or paying into a scheme that funds council Civic Amenity sites you can use.
If you use a lot of the larger toner cartridges, Revialis will collect a minimum of 15 items free of charge.
You must return your cartridges in the cardboard boxes they provide (for free) and you must not send any toner bottles / cassettes / waste toner containers, or fusers, drums, imaging units or other electronics.
Temporarily suspended while they work out logistics details post-Brexit.
If you've exhausted all the above, and do not qualify for any free services — or you do not have time to check and sort your items to return to the relevant manufacturers — there are services that will collect your cartridges and handle all your legal and environmental obligations for a fee.
Paying for a collection and disposal service is the easiest way to spend a minimum of time and fuss on your recycling.
If you have a small number and are happy to pay the postage, you can send your empty cartridges to CartridgeSave.
Please bear in mind that a typical Royal Mail 2nd class small parcel (under 2kg) will cost you £3.20, and a typical toner cartridge is 1-2kg.
Collection of a medium-sized box (e.g. 60x40x40cm) up to 25kg (typically enough for 25 empty toners) is £17.00 + VAT (or £7+VAT if you arrange and pay for the shipping).
This works out as about £1 per cartridge if you fill a box with 25.
They take any ink cartridges, laser cartridges, toner bottles, waste toner cassettes, imaging / drum units, fuser units, and transfer belts for printers.
They can also provide cardboard display and shipping boxes (60x40x40cm) at £2.80+VAT each, and a £5+VAT delivery charge for the order, but of course you can use your own boxes to help recycle.
75% of empty cartridges in the UK are not recycled even though there are plenty of reuse and recycling options, and many of them are free and easy to use.
A typical cartridge, with its plastics and electronics, will take up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill site, but having an empty cartridge reused saves up to 2.5kg of CO2 compared to making a new cartridge from scratch.
EveryCartridge.com is here to help you to find and use the many services that exist locally and nationwide, and cut through the misinformation to ensure that your cartridges do not go to landfill.