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Home / Global Environment / Impacts of the Office Article Series: Printers & Ink

Impacts of the Office Article Series: Printers & Ink

By Christopher Noll

Linoleum floorboards to trudge through, tiny white cubicles to squeeze into, and water dispensers to drink from and discuss at are the latest gossip ares in the stereotypical modern American office. However, little time, effort, and policies have been devoted to researching and publicizing the environmental impacts of office. Therefore, I hope in my next few articles to shine a light on different aspects of the office, which few would consider being detrimental and ways to improve for the better.

Whether jamming, running out of ink, or becoming broken beyond repair, printers and printing in the office can be a logistical nightmare.  Additionally, numerous sources claim that printer ink and toners are some of the most expensive liquids on Earth. Nevertheless, on top of these insane prices, printer ink cartridges and toner have serious environmental impacts. It has been estimated that about 660-750 cartridges are thrown out every minute, some of which may be incinerated and reborn as carcinogenic airborne toxins called dioxins (Gorman). If not incinerated, the arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals present in printing ink can leak from disposed cartridges, seep into the ground, and mix with the water table (“Pulling Iron out of Waste Printer Toner”). This can lead to contaminated water and adverse health effects to those dependent on underground wells for potable water (Malik, QA, and MS Khan). To avoid these risks, there are many ways to do your part for your office space by either refilling, or safely recycling printer cartridges and toner. To perform the former, there are a multitude of instructional videos, wikiHow articles, and other sources on the internet to figure out how to most reuse your printing cartridges and save your department from extra spending while being green in the process. If the latter is more preferable, or the cartridge in question possess anti-refill technology, retailers such as Office Depot and other similar retailers would be happy to recycle your empty cartridges for you.

Reusing and recycling ink cartridges and toner, while underreported, is a great way to help the environment while both the office and you the consumer can make profit. Be the hero of your workspace and help reuse and recycle ink cartridges and toner today!

In my next article in this office series, I discuss paper usage, how to reduce and recycle such paper products, and better alternatives for paper in the office!

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/printer-ink-toner-technology-print-933098/


Works Cited:


Admin. “What Do You Do with Empty Printer Cartridges?” InkStation.com, 6 Jan. 2017,


Gorman, Bob. “Ink Waste: The Environmental Impact of Printer Cartridges.” Asia Pacific

Nuclear Medicine or Radiopharmaceuticals & Stable Isotopes Market (2015-2023) –

Grow Pricing, Features, Reviews & Comparison of Alternatives | Energy Central, 30

Mar. 2017,


Larsson, Martin. “Keep Toxic Ink And Toner Cartridges Away From Our Landfills.” Inkpal.com,

31 July 2012,


Malik, QA, and MS Khan. “Effect on Human Health Due to Drinking Water Contaminated with

Heavy Metals.” Journal of Pollution Effects & Control, OMICS International, 17 Jan.




Petronzio, Matt. “Average U.S. Office Worker Uses 10,000 Sheets of Paper Per Year.” Mashable,

Mashable, 22 Apr. 2014,



“Pulling Iron out of Waste Printer Toner.” American Chemical Society, 2017,



“Toner Cartridges & the Electronic Waste Crisis .” Planet Green Recycle, 16 June 2015,




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