Make the World a Better Place with your Empty Ink Cartridges


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Did you know that your empty ink cartridge can help you earn some money or fund your favorite charity simply by not throwing it away!

Very often we do not know what to do with the empty cartridges and they invariably find their way to the trashcan. Given these cartridges are made of plastic, they are not biodegradable and end up polluting the environment in various ways.

A recent study done by a US based agency the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has found that 67% of the empty cartridges are sent to landfills, 15% are burnt to ashes and a mere 18% are recycled.

If the percentages don’t look intimidating enough, here are some actual figures, every year over 400 million cartridges with a combined weight of 200 million pounds are dumped into landfills.

Recycling these cartridges is a far more useful option. Here are a few benefits in recycling cartridges can do:

1/ Help us reduce our ink bills, as recycled ink cartridges are a lot cheaper compared to new ones.

2/ This way we can help reduce pollution and reduce the amount of plastic that goes into polluting the earth.

3/ We can send them over to companies that assist charities with the profits.

Some institutions generate money by recycling cartridges

Oxfam for example can help raise money from empty ink cartridges. Visit and you can read both about the work Oxfam undertakes as well as how they fund charitable work using the money generated from cartridges.

Refilling Cartridges

Refilling cartridges is good option. The replacement cartridges must be made to the exact specifications and standards of the manufacturer and not simply refilled. Just because they come cheap, you don’t want them to ruin your print quality and risk ink leakage.

Refill kits are available and they are typically very easy to use. If this option is availed they can save you up to 70 percent on the purchase cost. They can be purchased online from sites that sell ink cartridges.

A refill cartridge typically contains the component parts, ink, syringes and clips, to refill the empty cartridge with new ink. Instructions are provided with the kits to fill the cartridges. This is certainly the best way to improve the life of a cartridge as you can take of it yourself without having to pass it around.

If you would rather not refill the cartridges yourself, they can be bought from another supplier but here is a list of things you want to keep in mind while doing that.

1/ The yield needs to be checked - Which means, the estimated number of pages one cartridge can print.

2/ Density of the remanufactured cartridge - The density should be between 1.3 and 1.6. This number is derived after running a test on a number of cartridges, as testing just one will not present the accurate density.

3/ Inspection and replacement of components - The drum, wiper blade and the drum roller are the key components. They need to be checked before making a purchase.

4/ Each model of a printer uses a different toner - If the same toner is used for all the cartridges it could affect the yield without affecting the printing quality. This means, lesser number of pages printed per cartridge and hence higher cost per page.

5/ The label - Once the cartridge is remanufactured the label needs to be replaced by the supplier and the label should indicate which machine the cartridge goes into. If the label is not removed, it could be considered as copyright infringement.

6/ Check with the supplier if they would fix your printer if the ink bought from them causes damage to your printer. This in some cases would be an indication about the quality of ink inside the cartridges.

Potential problems that incorrectly filled cartridges can cause

Sponge filled cartridges refusing to print after re-filling. Here, the sponge is used so that it holds back the ink and it does not flow freely into the print head. The problem could arise from air bubbles trapped inside the layer of ink. This is known as a vapor lock situation. Precautions need to be taken so that this does not happen. While filling the cartridge, the syringe needs to be plunged deep into the cartridge and ink pushed out slowly till it appears on top of the sponge.

If the problem has already occurred, then try holding the cartridge with the print head pointing down on top of a waste paper basket and swing it upwards and stop suddenly. If ink appears on top of the print head, the problem is probably fixed.

The refilled cartridge does not print but a new one does

Check for vapor locking first. If that is the problem then the method described above can rectify the problem.

If this does not work, it could mean the print head or the venting path is blacked. If something is covering the venting path, try removing it. Please be careful not to increase the size of the venting path.

If it still does not work, then it possibly means that the print head openings are blocked. In this case there is not much you can do given the regular means available. However, you can try and scrub it with cotton dipped in distilled water or holding it over steam for not more than a minute. This does not happen regularly but if it does, you can refer to the printer manual and follow the instructions to clean the printer head.

Useful information

It is frequently asked if the warranty on a printer would be considered void if refilled cartridges are used. The answer is technically NO. Often the manufacturer will encourage purchase of branded cartridges and discourages the refilling but that is largely for commercial reasons. Otherwise it is perfectly all right to use refilled cartridges.

About the Author

John Sollars is the managing director of Solar Electronics, suppliers of inkjet cartridges and pc peripherals based in the UK. To access a comprehensive online shop of original and re-manufactured printer inks please visit


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