ink cartridge recycling

More ways to earn passive income recycling ink cartridges

I’ve written about making money with ink cartridges before. I think it’s an incredibly easy and great way to build a steady passive income without much effort.

I believe that finding the right locations where a lot of ink cartridges and toner are used are the critical factors in building a successful side income from ink cartridge collection. In my earlier post on the topic I talked about location placement with medical offices and law offices. In many areas, medical offices are often grouped together and I still believe placement in these locations is a great idea. Building relationships with the office managers is important.

Another great location placement idea for building a passive income business recycling ink cartridges is in or near schools. Schools make massive amounts of copies and printouts. Schools have all sorts of printers and copiers that consume a wide variety of ink cartridges and toner cartridges. Establishing locations in or near schools to collect ink cartridges provides numerous benefits, including:

  • Positive environmental impact by recycling ink & toner cartridges that would normally end up in a landfill
  • Placement in schools can provide a teaching and learning opportunity for teachers and students to learn about the benefits of recycling and reducing waste
  • Establishing a partnership with one or more groups or programs within a school that will provide them with a financial benefit for partnering with you (more on this below)

There are many opportunities to partner with schools to build your ink cartridge recycling business. Any type of school that prints anything can make a good partner and provide an ongoing passive income for your business.

Local School Districts

Traditional public schools in your community will usually have computers and printers in all of the classrooms. Even a small elementary school may have 20 or 30 printers. Often times there will be a single person or office that is dedicated to purchasing within a school or school district.

In other cases, introducing yourself to groups and the people that run extra-curricular activities at a school can be the driver for getting access to their ink cartridges. You can easily create a financial incentive for school groups to help you. Propose to them that you’re willing to donate a portion of the proceeds that you earn from their collection of ink cartridges to their program. Most school programs will dive at the chance to bring in extra money just by placing an ink cartridge collection box near their office. It’s also important to encourage them to notify the parents of the students in their program that they are collecting ink cartridges for recycling and they’ll make money from the effort.

Partnering with a school program like this can be a lucrative operation. Between the ink cartridges that are used by the school and any that are brought in by students it can add up quickly. In my experience with partnering with the music programs at three local middle schools and two local high schools I collect on average of around 100 ink cartridges per month during the school year. Since I’ve found a couple of different companies that are paying me around $3 per ink cartridge, I’m able to earn around $200 for myself and donate $100 per month towards the schools music programs. It’s a win-win for both of us and it only takes me a couple of hours per month to pick up the ink cartridges and sort them for recycling.

Colleges & Universities

Another place that I have found that is a great placement location for ink cartridge recycling collections is local colleges and universities. In particular, student dormitories.

Using a similar approach as I have with local public school music programs, I have made partnership with residence hall directors that provides a donation in exchange for putting a e-waste recycling collection box  in the lobby area of the dorm.

Most dorms have hundreds of students and all of them are constantly printing papers and projects for their classes. Each of the locations that I have partnered with in the dorms of a local university provides me with around 50 to 60 ink cartridges per month, per location, and they’ve been increasing every month since I started placing them there. So far at one local university I have four dorm locations and it only takes me about an hour or two every month to collect the ink cartridges and sort them for recycling. From these locations alone I earn around $600 per month for just a few hours work and donate back around $150 per month to the dorms.

As an added bonus, a couple of students have put old cell phones and batteries in the collection boxes. I have been able to resell the cell phones for a few extra dollars each and the batteries have been added to my scrap metal collection.

Start up supplies

There are a couple of things that you need in order to ensure successful ink cartridge collection this way. Each location needs a sturdy collection box that is clearly labeled with what you’re collected. I’ve used both cardboard boxes and plastic containers designed for e-waste collection. In my experience the plastic containers cost a little more but last longer. The plastic bins also look more professional and can easily handle being located in a busy corridor.


double-bin-with-labelsDouble Bin with replaceable label inserts available from Amazon







All together, through my partnership with local schools and universities, I’ve been earning around $1,200 per month in just a few hours work collecting and sorting ink and toner cartridges. Most of the locations continue to grow month after month. Most of the time I will stop by and do the collections while I’m out and about running other errands nearby.




Earn money recycling inkjet and laser toner cartridges

There are many companies that are paying top dollar for used ink jet and toner cartridges. Prices range from around $1.00 for low end common inkjet cartridges and over $20 for some of the higher end laser and copier toner cartridges and drums. Many companies in your area are probably just dumping their used cartridges in the trash. There is a tremendous opportunity for you to turn their waste into a business that brings in a steady cash income stream.

Your opportunity is in collecting used cartridges from companies that are just dumping their inkjet and toner cartridges in the trash. You will want to survey the types of offices in your area that may be heavy consumers of inkjet and toner cartridges. Law firms & doctors offices consume lots of ink printing out steady stream of documents and invoices. They are a great place to start when looking scouting out locations for this opportunity. I suggest that you start by calling larger firms and ask to speak with their office manager. The office manager is most likely the person responsible for ordering and swapping out inkjet and toner cartridges.

Tell the office manager that you are an inkjet and laser toner recycler and ask how they dispose of their cartridges. They may already be in a program where they send their old cartridges back to the manufacturer for recycling. There are several manufacturers that offer this type of services. Some provide some sort of credit when returning the cartridges. However, most do not. They simply provide a shipping label to return them. If they tell you that they throw their inkjet and toner cartridges away ask if it would be possible for them to set their used cartridges aside for you to pick up once per month, or more frequently if they use a lot of ink.

They may tell you that they send their inkjet and toner cartridges back to the manufacturer for recycling. Ask them what benefits, if any, they receive from that program. Most of the time they don’t receive any benefit aside from a free shipping label to return the used toner cartridge. Tell them about how recycling with you provides local benefits.

Before you start calling think about your sales pitch. Each year more than 350 million ink cartridges will end up in land fills in North America alone. The plastics used in manufacturing ink cartridges and the trace amount of inks inside them contain toxic chemicals. If not recycled ink cartridges that end up in land fills will eventually leach those toxic chemicals into the soil.

Independent studies have proven that recycled ink cartridges have a carbon footprint that is one third that of new cartridges. Use these facts and others you find through research to become an authority on the environmental impact ink cartridges have in landfills.

Once you’ve landed an office to join your recycling program, pick a day to visit the office and meet the office manager. It’s important to have business cards printed up with your contact information. During your visit provide the office manager with your business card and schedule a date in advance when you will retrieve their cartridges for recycling. Oftentimes, they will already have some cartridges set aside for you to take with you that day.

Some companies that purchase empty and used inkjet and toner cartridges include:

Be sure to check out each sites list of cartridges that they are buying and how much they are paying for each. One company may only be paying $1.00 for a specific inkjet cartridge while another may buy the same cartridge for $5.00.

It should not take long before you’ve enrolled 10 to 15 offices in your recycling program. You should be able to visit all of the offices in one day per month. Anticipage how much you’ll be able to collect from each office by asking the office manager about their ink usage. If you can schedule your pickups on days when you’ll be able to pick up a dozen or so toner cartridges and a few dozen inkjet cartridges you should be able to resell them for a couple hundred dollars.

During your pickups, look around for other nearby offices. Walk in and speak with the receptionist and ask if there is an office manager you can speak with. If not, it may be the receptionist that also acts as the office manager. Be sure to sell her on the benefits of ink cartridge recycling and provide her with your business card and contact information.