Recycling toner cartridges is not only good for the environment; it’s fairly simple to do. Many outlets that sell toner will not only take your spent cartridge off your hands, but will also offer you a price break on a new cartridge for trading in the old one. The old cartridge is then refilled and sold at a discount.
It’s important to note that while equipment is new and covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, using recycled toner cartridges in some jurisdictions may void the manufacturer's warranty. In the US, this is prohibited. The use of recycled toner cartridges is prohibited by federal law from voiding the manufacturer's warranty of the machine those cartridges are used in. In places that are unprotected by such rules, many people begin recycling toner cartridges after their warranties expire.
Toner cartridges are made of intricate parts that wear with use, so the number of times a particular type of cartridge can be refilled is limited. When recycling toner cartridges, the retailer will likely ask if the cartridge has previously been refilled.
For those with a modicum of skill and interest, kits are available that allow you to refill your own toner cartridges. This makes recycling toner cartridges very convenient and inexpensive. Toner refill kits differ, depending on the type of cartridge. Most kits come with basic instructions, and toner is usually packaged in a plastic bottle.
When refilling a toner cartridge, you may need to melt a small “fill hole” into the cartridge casing. A soldering iron can be used for this purpose. Drills are to be avoided, as they force bits of ground plastic into the toner chamber. Toner is poured through the fill hole, which is taped closed afterwards.
When recycling toner cartridges, if the cartridge has been refilled more than a few times, it might be wise to add only a portion of toner rather than filling the entire chamber. If the cartridge goes bad, you will have lost less toner.
Laser printer cartridges come with a built-in drum in most cases. Over time, the drum will wear, leaving marks on the blank areas of the page. The general rule is that a drum-style cartridge can only be refilled once or twice. If you are recycling toner cartridges by refilling your own, you can use the drum as long as it performs well, which might extend well beyond two refills.
Toner can be very messy if handled incorrectly, ruining clothes, carpets, or furniture. It is also harmful to inhale, and many types of toner are considered hazardous. If filling your own toner cartridges, take proper precautions and store refill kits out of the reach of children and pets.
Recycling toner cartridges extends the useful life of countless cartridges that would otherwise be discarded prematurely. While it bears repeating that new equipment under warranty calls for new toner cartridges, your spent cartridges can still be traded in.