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How To Tell Whether Printer Ink Cartridges Are Environmentally Friendly

2012-01-28

Understanding whether or not printer ink cartridges are environmentally friendly is easy. Several options for an environmentally friendly cartridge exist on the market today that help the consumer reduce landfill waste, recycle old cartridges, reduce ink consumption, and eliminate toxins from standard inks.

The simplest and most easily available printer ink cartridges that reduce environmental impact are remanufactured ink cartridges. A remanufactured cartridge is an environmentally friendly cartridge because it is comprised of reused cartridges that have avoided the waste stream and been refilled with ink. Remanufactured cartridges have the additional benefit of being able to be reused again by companies that refill them and, even if components break, they can use parts of them to make new cartridges. Remanufactured cartridges are often filled more fully than brand name cartridges, reducing the need for extra cartridges and additionally improving their environmental performance.

These types of cartridges have come a long way in the last two decades from the "drill and fill" method of cartridge reuse, and they can provide very high performance comparable to any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards. Some sources estimate that the use of remanufactured cartridges can avoid 150,000 tons of plastic from going into the landfill and reduce oil consumption by 283 million gallons every year. Once a customer is finished with a remanufactured ink cartridge, he simply drops it at a cartridge recycling station, usually available at office supply stores, to complete the recycling loop.

Another important way to tell if a printer ink cartridge is environmentally friendly is to determine what type of ink is used inside it. Soy and vegetable inks are becoming increasingly more available to the home and small business office, and they are already the ink of choice for many newspapers' color photographs because of the vivid colors they produce. Although they have an increased drying time, they avoid many of the heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury and the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are known to be cancer causing, all of which are found in many of the traditional petroleum-based inks available. Soy inks and other vegetable inks are derived from naturally rapidly renewable materials, and some vegetable inks use up to 15 percent less ink than soy based inks.

Unlike remanufactured ink cartridges, which are considerably less expensive than new name brand alternatives, soy and vegetable inks are more expensive because it is a newly growing market. However, both are great choices for those eco-conscious individuals who are interested in making a difference to help improve the environment by recycling, reducing waste, using less ink, and reducing the use of toxic petroleum-based substances that are commonly associated with printing today.

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