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23 Nov 2021

A surprising way to donate to charity with your empty printer cartridges

Using services like Recycle4Charity and The Recycling Factory can save your printer cartridges from landfill whilst raising money for charity

We can reveal that around 3 in 10 home printers are being binned or taken to the tip rather than being recycled, based on our survey* of thousands of people who own tech products. This got us thinking - are the printer ink cartridges ending up in landfill too? Here are a couple of places you can recycle your ink cartridges whilst raising money for a worthy cause of your choice.

Ink and toner cartridges account for a huge amount of plastic waste, with tens of millions going straight into landfill every year in the UK. You may have found yourself printing more at home recently, leaving you with a bunch of empty cartridges rattling around.

Instead of putting them in the bin, here are some services you can use to make sure they get recycled and will also donate some money to charity for each cartridge you send.

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Recycling printer cartridges for charity

Recycle4Charity asks for your used printer cartridges free of charge. For every ink cartridge you send , it donates an amount (usually between 10p and £2) to charity. That doesn't sound like much, but so far it's raised more than £1.5m and saved over 370 tonnes of cartridges from landfill.

You can choose any charity to send the donation to. If your chosen charity isn't registered with Recycle4Charity, you can register it yourself through the website, and you can always donate to more than one.

On the Recycle4Charity website, you simply type in your postcode and drop off your empty cartridges at a public collection point near your home, or you can request a free postage label to print off. Why not consider setting up a collection point in your community? You can request a free collection box and begin fundraising.

The Recycling Factory is another service where you can donate the money from your empty ink cartridges to charity, or you can receive some extra cash or other benefits such as Tesco Clubcard points. You can find out more on the Reycling Factory's website.

However, both Recycle4Charity and The Recycling Factory don't accept all types of ink cartridges. You can find out which cartridges they will accept on their websites. With Recycle4Charity, if it does receive other types of ink cartridges, they still won't end up in landfill but they won't produce a donation.

Unfortunately, neither service can accept toner or laser cartridges.

Don't overpay for ink - take a look at our guide to buying the best cheap ink cartridges

Other ways to recycle printer cartridges

Most printer manufacturers offer some type of free recycling service, but they will only recycle their own brand of cartridges. Many supermarkets and office supply stores have convenient designated recycling points for more types of ink cartridges, and lots of local recycling centres will accept ink cartridges of all kinds too.

When you send your cartridges back to the manufacturer, they're broken down into raw materials. These are sold on and made into other products. So your used cartridge could soon be living a second life as a water bottle or clothes peg. HP uses the raw materials to make new ink cartridges.

A lot of the waste in an ink cartridge comes from the cartridge itself, rather than the ink. Ink tank printers use refillable ink reservoirs instead of cartridges, and a number of their models have stormed our Best Buys recently.

Even though these models can be more expensive to buy, some only cost a few pounds to run a year. Whereas the equivalent cartridges can cost you hundreds of pounds.

If you're interested in buying a new printer, take a look at our Best Buy printers to find out which will suit you best.

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*Survey notes This year, more than 15,000 members told us about over 45,000 products, including nearly 10,000 printers in our unique survey data.