As cartridges are made up of a complex mix of plastics, metal, inks and toners they represent a significant investment in resources. When they are disposed of into landfill these resources are lost. Though useful when recovered, these materials pose environmental hazards when sent to landfill, as they erode chemicals leech into soil and groundwater.
Cartridges 4 Planet Ark helps collect and return cartridges for remanufacturing and recycling - keeping them out of landfill. Melbourne-based recycling partner, Close the Loop, is independently audited on an annual basis for its zero waste to landfill guarantee. The Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program collected and recycled about 5.4 million printer cartridges in 2020-21, reclaiming approximately 1,458 tonnes of material.
With product circularity in mind, printer cartridges have been collected from offices, community centres and retailers to be repurposed into new products.One of the main benefits of this kind of resource management scheme is that they are often free to consumers! They are great opportunities to make recycling convenient and accessible whilst also attracting commitment to sustainable business practices.
The future aim for Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is to become a formally accredited scheme. Accreditation will formalise the commitment of businesses involved in voluntary product stewardship schemes and help maintain valuable contributions to recycling goals.
Other benefits for accreditation include:
substantiated sustainability claims when competing in government procurement activities
use of the Australian Government’s product stewardship logo to raise customer awareness of product sustainability credentials
maximising the value of products and material streams.
"Accreditation is the next step to ensuring a meaningful commitment to product stewardship. A process where we can all benefit."
In 2020, 25 million printer cartridges were shipped into Australia, with 19% of them were recycled. Whilst Cartridges 4 Planet Ark has had a significant impact in this space, there are even greater achievements possible.
Our participating manufacturers cover the cost of collecting, transporting and recycling of their own cartridges as well as promoting the program to workplaces and to the general public. By supporting Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, and covering the costs of the program, it remains completely free for end users looking to recycle their printer cartridges.
Small Actions Big Impact
Cartridges 4 Planet Ark has already surpassed our goal of recycling over 50 million printer cartridges, over two years early. Our new goal is to increase the return rate to 30% by 2027.
One of the most significant accomplishments that Cartridges 4 Planet Ark can boast is our zero waste to landfill guarantee. As of 2021, this ‘zero-waste to landfill’ guarantee has seen resources within each cartridge separated and repurposed for continued use. Valuable resources are now turned into new cartridges, inks, and pens and eWood(a timber alternative made from recycled rigid plastics).
Plastic waste from printer cartridges has also been turned into, TonerPlas ™, a high-performance additive for asphalt road. Recycled ink from printer cartridges is used by Lousy Ink to create 100% recycled art supplies. Estimates suggest that Cartridges 4 Planet Ark has contributed over 944,000 litres of recycled ink and enough plastic to develop almost 3,500 kilometres worth of TonerPlas ™.
Printer cartridges are one of the many examples of how used products can be repurposed without having to send any waste to landfill and thus reducing our reliance on finite resources. By encouraging stakeholders along the entire supply chain, from manufacturers to consumers, to continue their commitment towards sustainable solutions, we hope to change the way people think about product circularity and recyclability.
You can contribute to the circular economy by recycling through Cartridges 4 Planet Ark.