Australians send 34 printer cartridges to landfill every minute. That equates to 2,050 printer cartridges every hour and 18 million every year.
This breaks down to a staggering 3,000 tonnes of plastic, 1,500 tonnes of ferrous metals, 400 tonnes of aluminium, 26 kilograms of precious metals as well as a significant amount of residual toner powder, ink, packaging and other materials entering the waste stream. This is not only a misuse of good secondary raw materials it also leaves a messy problem for future generations.
The Recycling Program
The 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' program was started in response to the growing problem of electronic waste and the challenge of disposing of old or unwanted electronic equipment.
'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' is a unique cartridge recycling program because Planet Ark's recycling and resource recovery partner Close the Loop uses revolutionary Australian technology to recycle all print consumables with zero waste to landfill, meaning not one component of the printer cartridges collected for this program will end up in landfill.
'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' recycles all types and brands of print consumables, from a photocopier, printer or fax machine. This includes inkjet and laser cartridges, print heads, fuser and drum kits, toner bottles and fax rolls. Close the
Loop's database is able to identify over 3,000 different cartridges, and related items from
more than 30 print manufacturers.
Over 50% of the laser cartridges collected via the campaign are sent to the Original Equipment Manufacturers for their reuse or component recovery programs. All inkjet cartridges. toner bottles and drum units are processed to recycle their component materials into new products.
'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' is a great example of 'Extended Producer Responsibility' where companies take responsibility for the whole of the life of their products. The multi-vendor, industry-funded program successfully partners with Lexmark, HP, Brother, Konica Minolta, Panasonic, Epson and Canon, and is one of the most successful voluntary programs of its type in Australia.
The program also offers a free recycling collection service for medium to large businesses and government organisations that use significant volumes of print consumables. These organisations receive reports to assist with environmental reporting requirements, enhancing their 'Triple Bottom Line' and 'Waste Reduction and Purchasing Policy' reporting.
The Recycling Process
When the cartridges arrive at Close the Loop they are sorted into their predominant plastic type. Then they are processed by batch through the Green Machine, which reduces the cartridges to smaller particles that can be more easily separated.
Close the Loop uses the various components of the cartridges to assist in the separation process and the end result is the recovery of 'raw' materials that are further filtered and upgraded to make new products. Everything from the plastics, aluminum, steel and toner powder is recycled. Even the ink from inkjet cartridges is used for lower grade printing.
The components that make up cartridges are non-renewable materials that can be used by a wide range of industries to make new products. The steel elements are smelted into new steel products like structural steel beams for buildings.
The plastics, toner and the ink from the used cartridges go into the production of ewood, a revolutionary plastic timber replacement product which is used to create a variety of materials including fencing, park benches, and signage.
How can Bussiness's get involved
There is currently over 15 000 bussiness's registered with the 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' program. It's very easy to get involved and it's completely free.
Bussiness's, councils, schools and any other medium to large organizations can call the 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' Hotline on 1800 24 24 73 or visit planetark.com/cartridges to register with the program. You'll receive a free starter kit and cartridge recycling box to put in your office. You can organise for the collection of your cartridges at any time just by calling the hotline to arrange a pick up.
The program not only benefits the environment it also demonstrates good corporate citizenship. You'll receive a resource recovery certificate and a returns report, you'll be supporting Australian technology and you can let everyone know that your business is green.
Smaller businesses and individuals can drop used printer cartridges into a 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' recycling box at participating Australia Post, Officeworks, Harvey Norman, Tandy or Dick Smith Electronics and Powerhouse stores. To find your nearest retail drop-off point, visit RecyclingNearYou.com.au or call the 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' Hotline on 1800 24 24 73.
The 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' program is sponsored by Lexmark, Hewlett-Packard, Brother, Konica Minolta, Panasonic, Epson and Canon. For more information about the program, to find your nearest drop off point or to register your business, call the 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' Hotline on 1800 24 24 73 or visit planetark.com/cartridges.