How can I Recycle Toner Cartridges?

R. Kayne

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.

Laser printer that uses printer toner.
Laser printer that uses printer toner.

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.

Old toner cartridges may be refilled and sold for a discount.
Old toner cartridges may be refilled and sold for a discount.

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.

Some office supply stores may have bins for recycling toner cartridges.
Some office supply stores may have bins for recycling toner cartridges.

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.

Used toner cartridges are recycled separately from other recyclable products.
Used toner cartridges are recycled separately from other recyclable products.

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.

Refill kits should be kept out of the reach of children.
Refill kits should be kept out of the reach of children.

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Discussion Comments


Is it really wise to recycle toner cartridges? I figured that some cartridges cause streaking when recycled.


In regard to post anon21715,authorized warranty repair center for Hewlett Packard.

Will using a compatible toner cartridge void my warranty?

Absolutely not! Federal law prohibits any company or person from requiring you to purchase only their product. The Federal Trade Commission protects your right as a consumer to purchase the product or service of your choice.

If you bought a new car, would you let them tell you to buy only a particular brand of gasoline? Of course not!

If anybody tells you that they will void your warranty if you use a compatible toner cartridge, tell them your rights as a consumer are protected under the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act, Subparagraph C, Section 101.


how can I refill a toner cartridge?


We've recycled with this company called Global Re-Source Funding before. Unlike a lot of the other companies like them, they've been in business for a long time and made it through the last year. Another location in our company that recycled with other companies went through two going out of business last year and finally signed on with Global.


For those who have full cartridges remaining after a printer has died, try looking online. It's happened to my company several times and someone always buys them online. Better than the landfill and they're off of my hands.


I have *new* manufacture HP toner cartridges for an HP8550 printer, the printer has died and what do I do with them now? I have all 4 cartridges, multiple of each. I would really appreciate any ideas. We don't even mind if we don't get money for them - I just can't see throwing them away. HELP!!!


I am looking for laser toner cartridges and inkjet refilling machines. Any suggestion of where can I start looking for that equipment?



What about these companies that buy used toner cartridges, are they legit?


As an authorized warranty repair center for Hewlett Packard, using re-manufactured toner cartridges voids your warranty is wrong. In the US, it is against the law for any manufacturer to do this. HP warranty states that if the problem you have is caused by the toner cartridge, then the warranty will not cover it.

I have been in the business for 15 years and never once had a case of a recycled cartridge affecting a warranty repair.


It is illegal in the US for a manufacture to void a warranty if you are using recycled cartridges. There is not reason not to use recycled cartridges right from the start.


Send it to a charity or any company willing to take that cartridge, whether it is good or not, these companies will be able to make that decision. If it is no longer recyclable (been recycled too many times already), then the cartridge will be disposed of properly, instead of thrown in the garbage.


It is indeed very important to recycle your cartridges. People are throwing out millions of empty toner cartridges every year, while we keep burning more oil to make new ones. Most cartridges can be recycled at least twice, of course certain components need to be replaced, due to wear and tear on the toner cartridge. That's why I recommend buying from a certified company.


How can I know if the cartridge is good before I refill it?

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