While we all use smart phones, tablets, PC’s and laptops there is no getting away from the fact that we need to print our documents. But before we start to print it is always a good idea to see how we can save costs and be kind to the environment at the same time. This will involve a combination of the paper, ink and toner we use. A simple way to reduce our carbon footprint while printing and our selves save some money on our ink cartridges is to print by duplex. This feature is available on some printers allowing us to print both sides of the paper at the same time. Also, if your printer has a feature that automatically removes blank pages then this will save you more as well. In the past I have given tips on saving money on your ink and toner but closer inspection of the features of your printer before you buy it will give you a better chance of saving money and doing your bit for the environment.
Another thing to consider is the ink and toner that you actually put on the paper. Toner ink is a powder that is used to create the text and pictures on your document. In the early days of course it was a simple carbon powder substance very messy to handle. In later years the carbon was mixed with a polymer to improve the print quality. In laser printers the toner ink is actually melted with heat in the printer and fused to the paper, opposed to the liquid printer ink contained in an inkjet cartridge. The toner ink cartridges of today are housed in sealed units and you are not encouraged to fill them yourself but rather to take them to a recycling centre.
What should we do when we run out of printer ink? Well, if we are intending to buy replacement ink cartridges we should also think about what we are going to do with the empty cartridges. There are millions of ink and toner cartridges used each year and statistics suggest that 95% of them go to landfill. Here are some more statistics taken from the United States where surveys into the impact on the environment have been taking place.
- It can take about 5 litres of oil to produce a new laser toner cartridge.
- In the USA, it is estimated that 8 ink cartridges are thrown away every second.
- In North America, estimates put the number of ink and toner cartridges discarded in Landfill each year at around 350 million.
- A typical laser toner cartridge will take up to 400 years to decompose in the earth.
Shocking statistics I know, but what can we do about it in Ireland? Firstly, we can think about how we are able to dispose of our ink cartridges when they are empty. Secondly, instead of throwing into the bin for landfill we can collect them and when we have enough gathered we can make the trip to our local Council amenity/recycling centre. There are containers in all refuse sites that will accept used ink and toner cartridges. If we all start this practice today, we can surely make a difference to our own carbon footprint.