Sustainability in Action

Are there any health and safety risks from recycling print cartridges? Is there a carcinogenic or other potentially harmful substance they could be exposed to?

The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available from the manufacturer provide comprehensive information about the environmental and health & safety hazards and risks associated with use and disposal of cartridges. Placing a cartridge in a bag for recycling is the same as placing a cartridge in a bag for landfill disposal; in both cases the cartridges are intact and the exposure to toner or ink is extremely low.

The materials used in the manufacture of toner and ink have all been assessed and passed as safe for use. Concern has been expressed about some of the ingredients of these products but this must be put in context. Toner and Ink are safe to use and handle in line with the manufactures guidelines; deliberate ingestion or inhalation is not recommended and should be avoided. The use of the products in printers and deposits in collection boxes for recycling is considered safe.

Normal use of a product will result in minimal exposure, this has been assessed by the manufacturer and details of the related hazards (and risks) are on the MSDS. Disposal in landfill will result in the release of toner and ink into the landfill although this may or may not result in a leak to the surrounding environment; landfills should be lined to prevent releases. Cartridges do not degrade in landfill therefore the environmental risk of methane (and other greenhouse gas) generation is low. The land filling of material results in the loss of the materials and prevents recycling taking place. Many cartridges also use engineering grade plastics which will take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill environment.  Please visit the manufacturers website from more information; you should be able to download copies of their MSDS or contact them to discuss further.

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