Studies found that about 500 million used printing cartridges end up dumped in landfills each year. Another revelation is that a single used toner cartridge can take more than 1000 years to reach a biodegradable level. Furthermore, 3.5 litres of oil ( petroleum in the past and vegetable oil recently) go into the manufacture of an original printing cartridge.
These astonishing facts have not been able to compel many people to change their printing habits. The paperless campaign continues to march on, but it proves a futile effort if everyone does not get on board. Often, eco-printing crusades target businesses while in essence, they should preach to the masses.
It all comes back to the responsible disposal of printer cartridges and reducing their use overall.
When Did Printing Cartridges Become The Enemy?
It almost seems like the fight against printing and its terrible effects on the started overnight. Suddenly, every email came with a warning at the bottom reminding you to think twice before hitting the print button. The problem is that while everyone was saying it, you would still go to the store and get fliers, receipts, and many other printouts that you would toss out almost immediately.
It is fair to say that the problems we are currently facing with these plastic casings started with their invention. Like every other technology-based advancement, we quickly embrace them and fail to question the long-term implications.
With years gone by, we are now experiencing the impact of discarded cartridges. While some efforts towards reversing the situation are in effect, it will be a while before we see a measurable result.
How The Ink Cartridge Affects The Environment
These plastic cases house ink which is made using several chemical compounds. They include butyl urea that functions as an anti-curling agent, polymer adhering cyclohexanone, colour dyes and an oil agent. In the past, most made use of petroleum oil but newer ink cartridges use vegetable oil in their production.
Laser ink cartridges require about three quarts of oil for production while their inkjet counterparts use three ounces of oil. Naturally, as people use and throw them away, they consistently need replacements. It creates a demand which manufacturers must meet, which means that they end up overutilizing valuable resources such as petroleum.
Aside from their inability to biodegrade quickly, these thrown out plastic casings may also pollute the water and soil around landfills. They are considered VOCs (volatile organic compounds) with heavy metal components. The toner (carbon black) is also a classified potential carcinogenic agent.
What Can You Do To Reduce The Impacts of Printer Cartridges To The Environment?
Reversing the negative impact that these plastic casings have produced will take some time and collective individual effort. Much like it took some time for people to buy into the printing technology, they also have to embrace the changes that will help conserve and preserve the environment.
Producing one single toner cartridge results in the emission of about 10.5 pounds of CO2 Greenhouse Gases. Add in the contents of the plastic cases, and the discharge of waste gases goes up.
Several print mills and ink cartridge manufacturers have made the transition to eco processes. It involves substituting some components for environmentally-friendly alternatives. For instance, most have switched over to using vegetable oil in place of petroleum.
Manufacturers are also now producing reusable ink cartridges as well as printers that make better economic use of printing consumables. Retailers like Ecotech printers only stocks eco-friendly machines and printing accessories in support of the sustainable environment. Check their website for eco-friendly print solutions.
The first recommended solution is to make the switch to recyclable printer cartridges. They allow you to refill the ink supply instead of tossing them after use and buying replacements. The bigger picture is the reduction in manufacture demands and therefore the heavy use of natural resources.
As much as 97% of the components that make up an ink cartridge are reusable. That means that only 3% of waste is produced out of the process, which can even reduce further on a larger scale if everyone embraces these alternatives.
Recycling paper is equally important and one of the aspects that many people have already embraced. For instance, unwanted printouts are often used as packing material. Artsy people have also created businesses out of recycled paper by transforming it into several consumable products including art and jewellery.
Economical Cartridge Use
The end-user has a bulk of the load to bear when it comes to responsible printing aimed at reducing cartridge waste. It involves several steps beginning with buying recyclables, using thinner printing paper, and adopting sound printing practices.
For instance, most printers have the duplexing function that enables it to print on both sides of the paper. This is particularly essential in higher learning institutions which also have the highest reliance on printing.
Formatting the text before sending it to the printer is another way to reduce the number of resources used for printing. For instance, using smaller font sizes, thinner font types, and less line spacing all help towards the efforts of print efficiency.
More than often, you do not need to print out every document and can make do with their digital version. Businesses are often the biggest culprits when it comes to printing unnecessarily.
The slow transition to e-invoices and receipts will help get rid of the over-reliance of printing for small businesses. There is widespread use of email and social media as a way of circulating marketing material. This move has had by far the best results when it comes to going paperless.
Companies with a large team of employees also use emails more to send out memos, and they also use private bulletin boards on their websites for the same purpose.
Institutions of higher learning can also benefit from posting vital documents on their student portals instead of printing out thick instruction manuals and learning aids.
All the efforts of conserving the environment by reducing the reliance on printing cartridges need a given level of education. Everyone needs to understand on an individual level why it is in their best interest to practice the responsible disposal of print waste. It is entirely possible to keep making use of printing resources without harming the environment.