How to Dispose of Printer Cartridges

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Updated November 16, 2022

Inkjet printer ink cartridges will begin to dry out after three or four weeks left unattended, whether you are using a highly recommended printer or not. Unless you’re running a business, there’s a chance that ink cartridge will be dry long before it’s depleted. 

Additionally, an average ink cartridge will print around 220 pages of text before needing to be replaced. You may also be interested in how to make a photocopy with your printer if you have an all-in-one.


  • Generally speaking, depleted ink cartridges will need to be properly disposed of and recycled.
  • Many retail store locations will accept these used ink cartridges and recycle them for you, offering certain rewards to the consumer for doing so.
  • Other options include contacting the cartridge manufacturer and signing up with a local recycling program.

Dispose of Your Used Printer Ink Cartridges

In other words, ink cartridges need to be replaced regularly. This means that the old depleted cartridges will need to be properly disposed of. There are services that exist, which will take used printer cartridges off your hands. Many of these organizations are created by the original manufacturer. Even then, some office supply stores have recycling centers that permit you to turn in used ink cartridges. 

As you dispose of your used cartridges and look to install a new ink cartridge, this helpful guide on disabling your printer’s color management option will save you many headaches. You can also read our tips on ways to extend ink from your printer cartridge. Alternatively, if you have a laser printer, you can read our article on how many pages you can print from one toner cartridge.

Learn How to Toss Out Old Ink

Ink cartridges can be finicky when it comes to disposal. To that end, we have assembled a list of tips and general guidelines to follow when looking to throw out a depleted ink cartridge.

Return to Big Box Retailer

Most big box retail stores will accept depleted ink cartridges and recycle them for you. Many of these stores will offer a rewards program as an added benefit. In other words, you will be awarded a free cartridge once you have brought in enough depleted cartridges. Other rewards include discounts on popular office appliances and actual money back. Before you head to the closest store with a bag filled with used ink cartridges, call ahead to ensure they will accept the cartridges.

Insider Tip

Most big box retail stores will accept depleted ink cartridges and recycle them for you.

Return to the Manufacturer

Similarly, most of the big ink cartridge manufacturing companies will accept depleted cartridges and recycle them for you. Just as with retailers, these manufacturing companies could offer some sort of a reward program for regularly mailing in depleted cartridges. You should inquire ahead of time as to what the company’s policy is regarding shipping, as some of these manufacturers will pay for the shipping costs and even mail you the appropriate packaging.

Refill the Cartridges

You can refill the ink cartridges yourself via a variety of methods. Ensure that you use high-quality ink when refilling to prevent printer jams. Numerous online tutorial articles and videos help you get started, and some retailers will even perform the refilling process for you. Heading to a retailer for an ink refill will cost you some money, but this cost is typically less than the price of a brand-new ink cartridge. That said, you can also refill toner laser printer ink yourself, you just need the appropriate ink type.

Recycle Cartridges Yourself

You can always find a local recycling program and inquire whether they will accept depleted ink cartridges. Some of these programs may even send a driver over to collect the cartridges when necessary. However, these programs typically cost money, so consider that. And don’t forget to clean your printer while replacing your ink.


Before you head over to the closest store with a bag filled with used ink cartridges, call ahead to make sure they will accept the cartridges.


Are there programs to recycle ink cartridges and benefit a charity?

Yes, there are numerous programs that recycle ink cartridges and disperse the remaining ink to a worthy charity. One such program is called Cartridges for Kids.

What should I do with expired ink cartridges?

If your ink cartridge has expired, you can follow many of the above steps for recycling a depleted cartridge. Bring it in to a local retail store or mail it back to the manufacturer.

Is it acceptable to put empty ink cartridges in the recycling bin?

No. Most, if not all, government-controlled recycling programs do not have the capacity to handle depleted ink cartridges. This is due to the materials that make up the cartridges themselves.

STAT: Approximately 1.3 billion inkjet cartridges are used around the world annually, but less than 30% of them are properly recycled. (source)

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