For years, most businesses and facilities threw their empty ink cartridges into the trash. Now, a new company – Evolve Recycling – provides badly needed assistance and financial incentives to help businesses turn this e-trash into cash.  The program also allows companies to donate those extra funds to local schools and non-profits.

Evolve Recycling has expanded an innovative program to allow businesses and facilities worldwide to send empty printer cartridges to Evolve for free, in exchange for up to $10 per cartridge. Evolve also will send cash for small electronics, such as cell phones, laptops, iPods and digital cameras. Businesses in various sectors, from healthcare to legal to communications, already are participating in the program.

The program has several benefits. First, participation helps companies beef up sustainability results. Only Evolve provides free sustainability reports regarding the cartridges turned in, making it easy and economical for inclusion in quarterly or annual reports.

Second, as part of their corporate responsibility goals, companies participating in the program can choose to take the extra cash they receive, and place that money into this sister program, enabling them to give back to their communities and provide much-needed funds to local schools and non-profits.

A similar recycling program in use since 1997, FundingFactory, has helped schools and non-profits receive $31 million dollars for their empty cartridges and small electronics. The money has allowed those organizations to purchase badly needed supplies or fund programs that were not budgeted.

Studies show businesses and facilities buying remanufactured cartridges can save 20 to 50 percent over the cost of a new cartridge. This may explain why there’s a new trend in America, according to market research: remanufactured printer cartridges have grown in market share while original-equipment cartridges have been declining.

The Evolve program also offers several environmental benefits: it diverts waste from landfills, reduces energy use and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Cartridges collected are always evaluated first for reuse. Reuse is the Environmental Protection Agency’s most preferred technique because it’s more environmentally-sustainable than simple recycling.

Nearly 600 million cartridges are used annually in the U.S. The original equipment manufacturers, often called “big ink,” grind up the empty cartridges they receive and continue to produce new cartridges. But studies show that it takes less than half the energy to produce Evolve’s remanufactured cartridges as compared to the energy needed to create a new one.

Every year, more than 400 million cartridges – with a combined weight of 200 million pounds – are buried in our nation’s landfills. But, diverting cartridges from landfills can have a major environmental impact:
• More than 500 million inkjet cartridges and 70 million laser cartridges are sold in the U.S. annually. Every year, more than 400 million cartridges with a combined weight of 200 million pounds are buried in our nation’s landfills. In the U.S., 13 ink cartridges are thrown away every second.
• Every remanufactured laser cartridge saves nearly 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic waste from being deposited in landfills. Toner cartridge remanufacturing saves more than 38,000 tons of plastic and metal from landfills.
• A laser cartridge thrown into landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose. Some components made of industrial grade plastics will take 1,000 years to decompose.

Under the program for schools and nonprofits, nearly 37 million cartridges, cell phones and other small electronics were turned in since 1997, diverting nearly 25 million pounds of plastic, nylon, steel, aluminum and copper from landfills. The environmental benefit is equivalent to offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from 65,556 passenger vehicles each year.