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Ink cartridges are ridiculously expensive and generally bad for the environment. How do you save money and the planet? Recycling used ink cartridges — for money.
The EPA estimates that over 375 million empty toner and ink cartridges get used in the United States every year, and the vast majority of those end up in landfills. You can save money and help reduce cartridge waste by purchasing recycled cartridges. (Even better, you can sell your empty cartridges to companies for cash.) To get the most on your return, collect cartridges from your home, work, and friends then sell in bulk.
That’s right — you can get paid for your used ink cartridges. Here’s how you do it.
1. Get up to $22 per cartridge from Toner Buyer.
Alabama-based Toner Buyer will purchase your empty, OEM printer cartridges for $0.25 to $22.00, depending on the brand and model (over 900!) — but the average cartridge is worth $1.00 – $2.00. They have the best prices we’ve found.
To participate, you’ll need to send at least 8 laser cartridges or at least 25 inkjet cartridges (or a combination of 25+ laser and inkjet cartridges). Cartridges must have never been refilled before.
Fill out their used cartridge purchase form to see how much you could make, and they’ll mail you a prepaid UPS shipping label. You’ll receive your payment within 21 days of them getting and inspecting your package.
They also buy unused surplus copier, printer, and fax supplies. If you’ve got new items you won’t use, make some money by filling out their surplus purchase form and they’ll send you a quote.
2. Get paid by ECycleGroup.com once you have 20 cartridges.
You’ll have to create an account to see their price list, but ECycleGroup.com has the largest list of accepted cartridges — over 2,300 by my count. They don’t have the best prices, though: you’ll get $0.10 each on average (but up to $3.60 each) for inkjet cartridges, and $0.10 to $4.50 each (average $0.10 – $0.25) for laser/toner cartridges. However, they may buy models that Toner Buyer doesn’t.
You’ll need to have at least 20 cartridges (or 20 lbs of mixed product) to sell to them. They start making payouts once you reach $25 earned on your account.
3. Empties for Cash will buy your empty ink cartridges for up to $4 each.
Empties for Cash has a short price list, but they pay you anywhere from $0.10 to $4.00 per OEM cartridge with an average payout of $2.00.
They buy ink cartridges from HP, Canon, Collins Inkjet, and Neopost / Hasler. They don’t buy toner, though. Empties for Cash asks that you send as many as you can at one time since shipping for small quantities ends up being expensive.
After submitting your item list, they’ll mail you a prepaid FedEx shipping label. Then you just pack the cartridges tightly in one of your old Amazon Prime boxes (I know you’ve got them!), tape the shipping label on, and send it off. It takes about a week for them to process your package, so you can expect your check within 2 weeks of them receiving the goods.
They’ll also pay you for recycled printers; see their FAQ for specific models.
4. Cartridge recycling will get you $20 in-store credit per month from OfficeMax, Office Depot, and Staples.
We all know that you can get discounts on cartridge refills at office stores, but some will actually pay you for your ink cartridges — even if you don’t refill them!
OfficeMax / Office Depot cartridge recycling program
- First, join the Office Depot/OfficeMax Rewards program for free.
- Then, bring your ink and toner cartridges to the cash register (they’ll accept up to 10 per month).
- Make a $10 qualifying purchase during the same calendar month. A qualifying purchase doesn’t include tax, delivery fees, gift cards, postage stamps, and purchases made with Rewards points.
- Receive $2 back in Rewards per cartridge, which you can use until the end of the calendar year.
Staples cartridge recycling program
- First, make sure you’ve joined the free Staples Rewards program.
- Then, spend at least $30 on ink or toner at Staples (not difficult to do).
- Within 6 months of that spend, bring in up to 10 ink cartridges per month — that means you could bring 60 cartridges total!
- Receive $2 store credit per cartridge — that’s up to $120 in store credit, good on anything in the store.
5. Sell cartridges (and other items) from your business, non-profit, or school to Cartridges for Kids.
If you represent a business, school nonprofit or similar organization, Cartridges for Kids wants your used ink and toner cartridges (and other electronics).
CFK purchases cell phones, laser & inkjet cartridges, laptops, mp3 players, iPads & iPods, tablets, and more. Check out their price lists for more information on the specific items they’re currently buying and the item’s value.
This isn’t necessarily designed for individuals to use, but if you’re an organization that gets their hands on lots of these items, you could use CFK as a fundraising mechanism.
6. If your cartridges aren’t accepted by anyone we’ve talked about, you can still recycle them to help reduce waste.
Earth911.com is dedicated to making it easy to learn how to recycle over 350 materials, as well as producing content to help you and your family be more environmentally friendly. Use their recycling center locator to find an ink and toner cartridge drop-off spot near you.
There’s no money in it for you, but you’ll be doing your community and our environment a favor by keeping plastic out of landfills.