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Recycling Cartidges & Toners

Eco Article Art

The ABC of printer cartridge recycling

A printer cartridge can consist of varying amounts of recycled material. The environmental cost will be very different depending on to which extent recycled materials are used in the production of the cartridge.

We define recycled printer cartridges as cartridges that are made from reworked waste or parts of old printer cartridges.

The generic process used during printer cartridge recycling is as follows:

  1. Upon arrival, cartridges are sorted based on model and condition and broken down into their main parts.

  2. Cartridges are checked for damage and overall condition. Damaged and worn parts are replaced by fresh components.

  3. Cartridges are reassembled and filled with new printer ink or toner. Cartridges are tested automatically for errors and then sealed in new packages.

  4. Recycled cartridges are sold to offline and online supply shops marketing them as remanufactured cartridges.

Recycling concepts and terms are unfortunately often mixed up and used in the wrong way. Some of the most commonly used terms and concepts are presented and explained below. Printer cartridges with the lowest environmental impact are presented first with the rest following in a descending order.

Refilled cartridges

Refilled cartridges are printer cartridges that have been refilled with new ink or toner by printer cartridge owners or shops. Home owners can refill their cartridges by buying refill kits.

When going for this alternative, please be aware that worn or end of life-cycle components in your printer cartridge may need to be replaced. If not, the printer might print with lower quality than expected. Follow the instructions provided in the refill kit carefully to avoid leakage and handling errors when refilling your cartridge.

Refilling the cartridge is often the only alternative for reuse of non branded cartridges or previously recycled cartridges as most recycling companies do not accept these. 

Refurbished / reused / remanufactured cartridges

These types of cartridges are to a greater or lesser extent produced from old printer cartridge parts that have been reused or repaired. All parts are examined, washed and tested individually to meet or exceed the quality standards set up by the OEM cartridge manufacturer. Key parts affecting quality and performance of the printer cartridge are replaced with new components while the cartridge case and non-wearing components are kept.

It’s better to re-use parts of old printer cartridges than to create new waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators. Less waste and energy are used in the manufacturing of these cartridges compared with recycled cartridges thus making them a better purchase.

Recycled cartridges

These cartridges are made from reworked waste. The energy cost for transportation, sorting and transformation is higher than for the group above making this a slightly worse alternative to go with.

We chose to group together recycled cartridges with refurbished, reused and remanufactured cartridges in this article to make things more understandable. Thus, recycled printer cartridges are according to our definition cartridges that are made from reworked waste or parts of old printer cartridges. Approximately 20-30% of all sold printer cartridges worldwide are a recycled cartridge.

Virgin cartridges

These cartridges have the worst impact on the environment. Virgin cartridges are produced from new raw materials which demand much energy during production while creating new waste when they are empty.

Example: An average toner cartridge, used in laser printers, faxes and copiers is made of 40% plastic requiring up to 3.7 liters of oil. The rest of the cartridge consists of 40% metal and smaller amounts of rubber, paper, foam and toner.

Why recycle printer cartridges?

Save landfill space and tax Rands

Over 375 million empty toner cartridges and ink cartridges are thrown into the trash every year in the US alone. Most of these printer cartridges end up on landfill sites or in incinerators.

375 million cartridges amount to roughly 11 cartridges being disposed of every second. If you put all these cartridges end to end they would cover a distance encircling the earth over three times.

This mountain of waste can be reduced through reuse and recycling. Yet approximately 70% of all ink cartridges and 50% of all toner cartridges are still not recycled. Things are continuously changing for the better with pressure from legislation, environmental awareness among consumers and a more mature recycling industry.

The plastics used in printer cartridges are made of an engineering grade polymer that have a very slow decomposing rate ranging between 450 to 1000 years depending on the cartridge type. Ink cartridges may also leak printer ink polluting the surrounding environment.

The recovery, reuse and recycling of all these empty printer cartridges will save tax rands since we all pay taxes for landfills through waste management costs.

Help conserve natural resources

By recycling printer cartridges, we conserve natural resources and energy by reducing the need for virgin materials. Up to 97 percent of the materials that make up a printer cartridge can be recycled or reused if taken care of. Printer cartridges can in extreme cases be refilled up to 15 times before reaching the end of their life most though averaging between 5-7 refills.

Save money and help creating jobs

Buying recycled printer cartridges can reduce the cost with up to 50% compared to cartridges that are made of virgin materials or non reused parts. Depending on the recycling program and printer cartridge type you will get money back for every returned cartridge.

By purchasing and returning printer cartridges you support the local economy. The remanufacturing business employs thousands of people spread out over many smaller and locally owned companies.

Which cartridges are accepted?

Only OEM cartridges are unfortunately accepted in most paying recycling programs. An OEM cartridge has never been recycled before and bears the name of the printer brand i.e. HP, Lexmark, Dell etc. Cartridges that have variations of the words “remanufactured”, “compatible with”, “replaces…” or "manufactured from new and used parts" printed on the cartridge will not be accepted by most programs.


Some printer cartridge recyclers accept previously recycled cartridges. The compensation level is however low and only few cartridge models are accepted. Check our lists of printer cartridge recyclers that accept these cartridges.


Printer cartridges that are sent in for recycling needs to be in good condition to be accepted by the recycling companies. Handle your printer cartridge with care and according to the specific instructions given from the recycling service. Be sure to check which cartridges are accepted before you send them in. Recycling companies will only pay for cartridges they accept and some will also charge a penalty for cartridges that are not accepted.


The following inspection criteria can be used before you send in your cartridges. These are enforced by many recyclers and recycling programs offering cash for your cartridges:


Inkjet Ink Cartridges


  • Make sure that the case is not broken or have cracks.

  • The contact area should be firmly attached to the cartridge case.

  • The flex tape should not be broken and be firmly attached to the cartridge case.

  • The nozzle plate should not have any holes or be broken.

  • One of the key components of an ink cartridge is the nozzle plate / print head. Attached to it are resistors that heat the ink causing it to expand and shoot through the jets onto the paper. The heating elements i.e. the transistors can burn out if you print with an empty ink tank. For this reason, most printers warn you when you are about to run low on ink. Stop printing when warned and change to a new cartridge. Read more on correct ink cartridge handling.

  • Most Epson and many of Canons ink cartridges only consist of an ink tank making them non-accepted in paying recycling programs. All parts which normally are integrated into the ink cartridge are in these brands inkjet printer models attached directly onto the printer.

    Laser Toner Cartridges


  • The casing should not have any cracks, missing parts, non-original screws or clips.

  • Shutter(s), sensor tabs and pins are present and in place.

  • Make sure that the cartridge is a original makers cartridge (as stated in the top of the paragraph).

  • No components should be missing from the cartridge.

  • Copier toner bottles and cartridge tubes are not accepted.


Ribbon Cartridges


These cartridges are not accepted by any paying recycling company.


PrintHard Art

About Printers

Any computer owner who has shopped around for a desk-top printer knows that there are plenty of options lining the shelves of office supply stores and consumer electronics outlets. There are so many, in fact, that finding the right one for your personal and business needs can be a very daunting task.

Fortunately, your search for the perfect printer comes at a time that many consider the "golden age" of printer technology. Prices are down, quality is up, and with a little knowledge and effort, you can turn your home/office computing centre into a photo lab, greeting card company, sign maker, and graphic arts department -- all at a price that you'd never dream possible!

We know how confusing it can be to decipher all of the features and specifications listed on the outside of desktop printer packages, so we've made a list of critical items you should look for when you go shopping. Even before you pick up your car keys, take some time to learn what all those terms and numbers mean. This article is a good start. We've kept it short and simple, so you won't get bogged down in a lot of technical jargon and unnecessary details. A little time spent surfing online could save you a lot of time fighting traffic on the road!

Image Quality

When you shop for a desktop printer to print your color photographs, what you're really looking for is a model that can deliver photorealistic results. You want your images to look as close to real photographic prints as possible. Photorealistic printers were once very expensive to buy and operate, but technological advancements and competitive pricing have made them much more accessible to the average buyer.

Until recently, high-end (and high-priced) dye-sublimation printers were the only models capable of delivering photorealistic prints, but today's ink-jet printers have made tremendous strides in image quality. Companies like Epson and HP have been aggressively pursuing the professional photography market for years, and the benefits of all their research have finally reached the amateur and serious amateur photographer, with near photo-quality printers starting at less than R 800. Look for the term "photorealistic" or "photo-quality" when you shop for a color printer.

Printer Resolution (dpi)

While digital cameras use pixels to measure image resolution, printer resolution is based on the number of dots per inch (dpi) the printer lays down on paper. The higher the dpi, the smaller the dot, and the harder it is to discern one dot from another with normal viewing. Very high-quality, photorealistic ink-jet printers produce dots so small that you can only see them with a magnifying loupe, but there are many levels of acceptable printer quality between high-end and low-end models.

Printer resolutions vary from 300 to 1,400 dpi and higher, depending on the technology used to create the dot (see "Printer Technologies" below) and the size of the nozzles or heating elements in the print head. A printer that delivers 600 dpi resolution is generally considered photo-quality, but there are other factors that influence how a print looks to the naked eye. The kind of paper you use to print the image has a dramatic effect on print quality, as does the number of colors the printer uses, and the way the ink is applied. Read on to find out more about these factors.

How Many Colors?

Most digital printers use a combination of three, four, or six colors to print full-color images. Ink-jet printers dispense each color individually, either from a single chamber in a multi-chambered ink cartridge, or from a single ink cartridge that can be swapped out when one color gets low. Dye-sub printers use heat-transfer ribbons, each dispensing a different colored dye. All printers use cyan, magenta, and yellow -- the three primary colors used in printing -- as their base colors, with a few variations as noted below:

Three color printers: Cyan, magenta, and yellow are known as "subtractive" colors. If you combine equal amounts of these three colors, you get black -- the absence of all color. Based on this theory, a CMY printer should be able to produce black without any problem. In the real world, however, CMY blacks usually come out looking muddy or gray, so the printing industry has traditionally added a "composite" black ink to the mix to help clean up the shadows and dark areas of an image. If you want high-quality photos, we recommend that you avoid three-color printers.

Four color printers: Like the professional printing presses mentioned above, most high-quality digital printers use a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) inks to recreate -- as closely as possible -- the full spectrum of tones and colors that you see when you take a picture. When shopping for a digital printer, look for one that uses at least four colors.

Six color printers: Many printer manufacturers have expanded the traditional CMYK ink set to include two additional colors -- light cyan and light magenta. These two color variations make it easier for the printer to reproduce light-colored image tones, without having to leave excess white space between the ink dots. The result is an image with a more continuous-tone quality.

Ultraviolet Coating

Concerns with print permanency and the adverse effects of UV light have prompted a great deal of research into methods of protecting digital prints. In addition to improvements in ink quality, some printer manufacturers have added a UV coating to the print production process. Originally introduced in high-end, dye-sub printers, the a UV layer may add decades to a print's life expectancy.

Choosing the Right Paper

Paper is a key component to the quality of a digital print. You can't expect to obtain good results from an inexpensive, porous paper that is not designed for printing photo-quality images. Your best bet is to buy papers (and inks) recommended by the printer manufacturer, which in most cases, will be made or marketed by the manufacturer itself. Its papers are optimized for use with its printers, and will probably give you the best results.

Once you become familiar with your new printer, then you can start experimenting with different brands and textures of papers. There are dozens of creative possibilities out there, especially in the realm of ink-jet printing.

Try Before You Buy!

There is no better way to shop for a printer than to try it hands-on. Have a salesperson run a test print, preferably one with text on it. If possible, run the same print on other models you're considering. Observe the printer in operation. Is it noisy or quiet? Does it take a long time to print? Check the printer's specification sheet, it usually publishes the print speed in prints-per-minute (this time will vary depending on ink coverage and quality setting).

Look at the printed image. On an 8x10-inch print, there should be no visible dots or dithering from a distance of 8 inches. Check to see that the edges of the text are smooth, and that there are no signs of aliasing or stair-stepping along hard edges or lines in the image (straight or diagonal).

Printer Technologies

There are many types of digital color printers on the market. Each approaches the task of depositing ink or dye on paper in a different fashion. The following are the three most common types of printers used for digital color printing. Among them you'll find models priced for the amateur, advanced-amateur, and professional photography markets.


Ink-jet printers operate exactly as their name implies: Ink is sprayed onto the printing substrate through tiny nozzles (about the diameter of a human hair), depositing small droplets of color as they move over the image area. These nozzles are part of a cartridge assembly that makes up the "print head," which passes back and forth across the paper horizontally, squirting ink as it goes along. When one strip of paper is covered with enough ink to form that portion of the image, the printer's "stepper motor" advances the paper to the next strip, so the print head can continue to deposit ink until it has covered the entire sheet of paper.

There are several methods by which ink is transferred from the nozzle to the paper in ink-jet printing. Thermal ink-jet technology, originally developed by Canon U.S.A. as "bubble-jet" printing, uses heat to force the ink through the nozzle openings. Canon has refined the thermal process so that its current bubble-jet printers are capable of producing variable-size dots instead of the uniform size dots that are usually associated with this technology. By varying the dot size, the printers are better able to manipulate ink density. Resolutions for thermal ink-jet printers usually start at 300 dpi.

Micro Piezo technology, a development of Epson America, employs an electrical charge to deliver the ink to the substrate. This method allows more precise control over the size and shape of the ink droplets, which are generally smaller than dots created by the thermal ink-jet process. Smaller dots mean that you can fit more of them per inch, and therefore achieve higher image resolution (typically starting at 720 dpi). Another benefit of the Piezo method is that the ink does not have to stand up to the high temperatures associated with thermal ink-jet technology, so there is more latitude for developing new and improved ink sets.

Hewlett-Packard's PhotoREt III is a color layering technology that produces extremely small droplets, resulting in more colors per pixel than other ink-jet printers (as many as 3,500 printable colors per dot). This allows HP to improve print quality through increased color range, rather than increased dpi. Regardless of which technology they use, ink-jet printers are rapidly becoming the most common color printing devices used in homes, offices, and even graphics businesses -- thanks to constant improvements in performance and significant decreases in price.


Dye-sublimation was long considered the "only" technology capable of producing real photo-quality digital prints. Based on a heat transfer process, thermal dye-sublimation uses thousands of tiny heating elements that come in contact with a "donor ribbon," releasing a gaseous dye that is transferred to the paper one color at a time. Each heating element is controlled individually by electronic impulses from the printer's internal processor. The gaseous nature of the dyes allows them to blend seamlessly on the printing substrate, producing continuous-tone prints that are nearly indiscernible from conventional photographic prints.

Early dye-sub printers were large, bulky, and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Because each color ribbon is processed individually (one pass each for cyan, magenta, yellow, and -- in some printers -- black), the dye-sublimation process can also be somewhat time-consuming. However, the results usually speak for themselves, and some of the newer, less expensive consumer-level dye-subs, like those made by Olympus for use with its digital camera line, are beginning to gain popularity.

Thermo Autochrome

Thermo autochrome is a relatively new printer technology that uses heat-sensitive pigment layers incorporated directly into the paper. The three color layers -- cyan, magenta, and yellow -- are each sensitive to a different temperature. The printer selectively heats areas of the paper, one color at a time, to activate and then fix the pigments with ultraviolet light. Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. uses thermo autochrome technology in its NC and NX printers specifically designed for use as companion printers with its popular line of digital cameras.

Laptop Printers

Many people enjoy the benefits of having a laptop computer. With the many public wi fi connections available, getting online is easy. The down side of working in public or non traditional places from a laptop computer is the lack of an available, secure printer. Printers for laptops solve that problem very efficiently.

For those that have non-traditional work spaces, laptop printers are very efficient and easy to own. Printers for laptops still offer security when printing sensitive data and copyrighted materials. Its easier to stay mobile with a laptop printer because they have the ability to communicate wirelessly with a laptop.

Students enjoy having a printer for their laptops. they are normally smaller than traditional printers. Because of their size, they easily fit into smaller spaces. Without those extra wires connected to their laptop, the printers can be placed further away and still print successfully. In a jam packed space, having a wireless printer is great.

Laptop printers can operate with a traditional power cord or a rechargeable battery. Users that have a small but constant workspace enjoy having a constant power source. the connection between the laptop and printer can still be wireless while the printer is plugged into an outlet. Its a reassuring option when printing, knowing a lack of power will not stop their printing.

Mobile laptop printer users enjoy the convenience of having a battery powered device. Although they are convenient, they can have an extra cost to obtain. The batteries usually charge whenever the printer is plugged into an outlet. Depending on how much printing is done, a fully charged battery will last for hours.

Portable printers are a great tool for users that have spot meetings or write materials in a coffee house. Although convenient, laptop printers tend to use more ink than conventional printers. For users that print more than others, the ink cartridge will need to be replaced more often. But the cost of owning a laptop printer isn’t more than the cost of owning a traditional printer. Even for laptop printer owners, there are ways to still save money on replacement printer ink and cartridges.

Before laptop owners go out to buy printers, they should consider the use of the printer. For users that will print a lot of pictures, a color inkjet printer would be best. For students that will be printing more text than pictures, a laser printer will produce crisp copies in a small amount of time. The most popular printer is multifunction printer because it allows a user to complete multiple tasks from one location, fast.

Printers for laptops are awesome tools to have available. Regardless to the type of printing job, the right printer can get it done efficiently. A dedicated printer is a great lure for constantly mobile users. For those with space challenges, the smaller laptop printers are awesome to own.


Apple Article Art

Apple Largest PC Producer?

Apple is Now World's Largest PC Company (If Tablets Are PCs)

Canalys is, as far as we know, the only major market research firm that has chosen to include tablet shipments in overall PC unit shipments.

There is quite a bit of controversy whether that is an appropriate way to measure PC numbers, but for those who consider a tablet a PC, Apple is now the world's leading PC company, according to Canalys.

About 120 million "client" PCs (including tablets, desktops, netbooks, notebooks) were shipped in Q4, which represented 16 percent annual growth, according to the market research firm. Excluding tablets, to which Canalys refers to as "pads", the PC industry's shipments contracted by 0.4 percent. Apple shipped about 15 million iPads in Q4 and about 5 millions Macs, which hands the company a 17 percent market share, Canalys said. Apple gained six market share points year-over-year, while Acer, Dell and HP lost market share.
Canalys predicts a difficult future especially for HP. “Currently, HP is pursuing a Windows strategy for its pad portfolio, producing enterprise-focused products, such as the recently launched Slate 2, until the launch of Windows 8,” said Canalys analyst Tim Coulling. “However, questions remain over Microsoft’s entry into the consumer pad space. While early demonstrations of the Window 8 operating system seem promising, Microsoft must focus its efforts on creating an intuitive user experience that is far less resource intensive.”

Lenovo was the only other large manufacturer to gain market share during the quarter (2 points) and is more likely to succeed in the tablet space, Canalys said: "The vendor’s decision to use Android for enterprise and consumer pads gives it a better opportunity than HP to continue gaining market share."
Canalys noted that "pads" accounted for 22 percent of the PC shipment volume in Q4 2011, driven primarily by Apple's iPad, the Amazon kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook.

“The consumerization of IT continues to be a significant disruptive force in the PC industry, but many of the leading vendors have failed to capitalize on the trend to date,” said Coulling. “This year will be a pivotal year for those vendors that were slow to launch pads. It is not just the product that they need to get right, business models are equally important - driving revenues from content delivery can help vendors reach lower price points in a market that is incredibly price sensitive.”

Choosing Headphones

How to Select the Best Headphones

Do you know how to select the best headphones? Where you listen makes a big difference in determining the best type of headphones for you. If you're looking for headphones to listen to on the go, you'll likely want something portable that's easy to store and carry. If you're looking for headphones to use with your home audio system, you may want bigger headphones that have higher sound quality.

How isolated do you need to be?

If you're in an extremely noisy environment or an extremely quiet environment, you may need closed-ear headphones. Closed-ear headphones in a noisy environment can help keep outside noise from leaking in, while closed-ear headphones in a quiet environment prevent your audio from leaking out to disturb your neighbors or interfere with recording.

Semi-open headphones are easier to wear for long periods of time and may be a good choice in an environment where complete isolation isn't crucial. Semi-open headphones also tend to sound better than closed-ear headphones, giving a more accurate representation of the audio than their closed-ear counterparts. Open headphones are typically used for casual listening, if you're looking for headphones to use at the gym or when you're out on a walk.

Headphone Styles

Full-sized headphones are either circumaural or supra-aural, meaning they fit over your ears or on them. These headphones are typically closed-ear models, although they may also be used in semi-open applications. These headphones are the most comfortable to wear for long periods of time and may be a good choice if you have ear problems or find that the in-ear headphones just aren't comfortable.

If you're looking for something a little more portable, earbuds and canalphones provide a very mobile alternative to full-sized headphones. Earbuds rest just inside your ears at the tip of your ear canal and are an easy and inexpensive choice. Unfortunately, they don't form a very good seal, making it easy for outside noise to interfere with your listening. Additionally, earbuds just don't fit some people.

Canalphones fit inside your ear canal and typically form a seal to prevent exterior noise from leaking in. Canalphones don't require a high volume to produce good-sounding audio, which can help prevent long-term hearing loss if you listen to your headphones for extended periods of time.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise canceling headphones use different technologies to decrease unwanted external noise. These headphones are great if you work in a noisy environment or do a lot of flying. Canalphones may have advanced technology that cancels out external sounds, but you can get the same effect with a good pair of closed-ear headphones.