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Administration - Sustainability at Lehman College

Recycling Printer Cartridges

Printer ink- and toner cartridges are (by now) ubiquitous consumable products, comprised of plastic and metal components that are environmentally persistent, taking hundreds of years to decompose. However, these products lend themselves well to recycling and remanufacture/reuse, presenting an opportunity to divert a significant, specific waste stream from landfills.

Remanufacture, reuse and refilling of printer cartridges has become big business, producing a low-cost product comparable in quality to that of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Most of the printer cartridges used at Lehman College have been refurbished by companies specializing in these processes, which have become more high-tech and automated as the industry evolves. Spent printer cartridges are disassembled, components are inspected and cleaned, reassembled, refilled, and tested for print quality and quantity. Remanufactured printer cartridges are then purchased through distributors.

Spent printer cartridges can also be recycled. In this process, spent cartridges are returned to the OEM, which often have their own recycling operations. Recycling separates the cartridges into their components, and further processes these components to be made into entirely new products. This approach results in energy- and resource savings, although less than that of remanufacture/reuse. Recycling programs are described on the specific OEM websites (see links below). OEMs provide shipping boxes and postage-paid shipping labels for returns. Individual OEMs will only accept their own products for recycling.

Lehman College recycles its empty printer toner cartridges through Staples. All brands of printer cartridges are collected at Central Receiving (Music Building, room SB15) and picked up by Staples delivery team once a week. We strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff to use this service.