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Record number of print cartridges recycled

Australians have recycled a record 13,500 used printer cartridges every working day, according to Planet Ark.

The data shows since the launch of their Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program, more than 3.5 million cartridges have been returned for recycling or remanufacture.

Ryan Collins, Recycling Programs Manager at Planet Ark, said a key factor in this success is the industry’s willingness to participate in this voluntary product stewardship scheme, which ensures the environmental impact of their products is responsibly managed at the end of their useful life.

“The success of ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ is a direct result of the commitment demonstrated by our program partners. With their participation the program has been able to build an extensive collection and processing infrastructure that makes it easy for households and workplaces to recycle their cartridges, which is clearly reflected in the previous year’s results,” Mr Collins said.

Collectively, the participating cartridge manufacturers Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta and Kyocera have helped Australians divert 34 million cartridges from landfill, which is equivalent to more than 14,500 tonnes of materials, since the program began in 2003.

“Working within a closed loop or circular process, like the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ program, which allows us to recover and reuse valuable materials and keep them circulating, is essential.

“It doesn’t make good business sense to send useful and valuable materials to landfill, when they can be salvaged and directed back into the economy. We’re particularly proud of the fact that the program has consistently achieved zero waste to landfill every year.”

Printer cartridges can take between 450 and 1,000 years to break down in landfill, and e-waste is the fastest-growing form of waste. Rapid innovation, decrease in product lifespan and declining prices of both electronics and raw materials have led to more and more items being discarded.

Planet Ark data shows that Australian consumers are by and large supportive of responsible waste management and recycling. In a recent study, 82 per cent of participants stated that they will recycle even if it takes more effort.

Once they are collected, used printer cartridges are sorted and, depending on their type, returned to the manufacturer for remanufacturing, or dismantled, with plastics, metals, toner and ink collected for recycling by resource recovery partner Close the Loop®. Bags and ties that help transport the cartridges once the collection box is full get recycled.