How Are Printer Cartridges Recycled – Step by Step

Do you know how to dispose of empty printer and toner cartridges once they have reached the end of their lifespan? Maybe, you have just thrown them into the rubbish along with your general waste and not really given it a second thought as to what happens next because you are just not sure what you should do with them. Put simply, the only response to this question should be cartridge recycling but quite honestly how many of us can hand on heart say we know where to start? Don’t worry, it’s simple and we will take you through the process step by step.

Take the Cartridge Recycling Quiz to get surprised by some eye-opening facts.

Step 1: Collection - Where can I take my empty printer and toner cartridges to be recycled?

The first step is to take your empty printer and toner cartridges to a designated cartridge recycling collection point. Cartridge World has collection boxes available at each of its 130+ locations across Australia as part of the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark Program, an innovative and environmentally friendly way to recycle used printer cartridges. Simply drop any empty cartridges into your nearest store and they will be packaged ready for collection.

Step 2: Sorting & Processing - What happens to cartridges during the recycling process?

Once collected, the empty printer and toner cartridges are taken to a specialist recycling facility operated by Close the Loop where they are sorted and processed. Cartridges are safely broken down into various parts by ‘Green Machines’. During this process - steel, aluminium, clean and contaminated plastic, residual toner, and ink are all separated.

Step 3: Re-purpose - How are the recycled cartridge parts used?

Once separated, each element of the used cartridge can be re-purposed in a variety of ways to produce new products: -


Steel components are re-used to manufacture appliances such as fridges and washing machines, whilst aluminium is used to make cans for food and drinks.


Clean plastics are turned into items such as pens. Any contaminated plastics and remaining parts are crushed and processed into ‘eWood’ a synthetic timber material that can be used to make fences and furniture items.


Any residual ink is used to fill pens or to create recycled artist ink


Residual toner is mixed with asphalt, recycled glass, and plastic to produce high-quality road and paving surfaces.

When you think about it you are probably already utilising items in your day-to-day life which started life out as a printer cartridge – pretty amazing really.

So, next time you go to throw your empty printer cartridges away please remember to dispose of them responsibly to ensure they are recycled and reused. Following these simple steps and encouraging others to do the same will go a long way to reduce the 25 million printer cartridges that end up in landfill across Australia each year.

Take the Cartridge Recycling Quiz to get surprised by some eye-opening facts.