Office Depot Enhances Ink and Toner Recycling Program

Office Depot Enhances Ink and Toner Recycling Program

Office Depot is offering customers who return eligible used ink and toner cartridges to any of its U.S. stores the choice of a free ream of 35% post-consumer recycled content paper or $2.50 on their next purchase of any ink, toner, or fax product.

The offer will continue through March 31, 2005.

The office products retail giant says that since the program launched in January 2002, more than 12 million ink and toner cartridges have been recycled and the initiative has been expanded to include retail customers, business customers, and Office Depot employees around the world.

"The program is part of Office Depot's ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship," says Tyler Elm, Director of Environmental Affairs for Office Depot, calling it “just one of our strategic initiatives designed to both increase the use of environmentally preferable products and to educate customers as to the benefits of recycling."

According to Elm, on an annual basis, Office Depot's ink and toner recycling program benefits the environment in the following ways:

  • The conservation of approximately 127 million BTUs of embedded energy -- the energy required to manufacture the plastic cartridges, and

  • The conservation of approximately 614 million BTUs of embedded energy -- the oil and natural gas resources embedded within the cartridges' styrene resin shell.

    The total embedded energy conserved equates to approximately 615,000 gallons of fuel -- enough to allow an average midsize car to drive over 17 million miles -- while saving thousands of cubic feet of landfill space due to remanufactured cartridge usage.

    In looking at the impact of Office Depot's recycling program on the environment, Elm pointed out that:

  • by some estimates, nearly eight ink and toner cartridges are thrown away in the U.S. every second.

  • according to industry sources, 98% of ink jet cartridges end up in the solid waste stream, although this percentage has been decreasing the past year thanks to aggressive recovery efforts like Office Depot's recycling program.

  • industry analysts estimate that a spent ink and toner cartridge can be reused between four and seven times.

  • each laser printer cartridge, on average, consists of approximately 2 1/2 pounds of plastic -- primarily acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) -- along with steel, aluminum and rubber.

  • manufacturing each printer cartridge requires approximately three quarts of petroleum to power the manufacturing process that converts oil and natural gas to plastic.

  • each cartridge contains petroleum as "embedded" energy (i.e. the fuel value of the plastic itself). It takes the energy equivalent of approximately one-half gallon of oil to make one 2 1/2 pound cartridge.

  • using five cases of EnviroCopy 35% post-consumer recycled paper in place of virgin paper spares a mature tree from being cut down.

    The above data were provided by GreenOrder, an information services and consulting firm that specializes in sustainable procurement and operations. Office Depot is currently working with GreenOrder on a variety of environmental projects.