Top 19 Ways to Recycle Empty Ink Cartridges for Cash (and 4 Ways to Save on New Ones!)
Updated on: by Amy Kennedy
Do you ever wonder what to do with old printer cartridges?
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Scary fact: Empty ink cartridges end up sitting in landfills when you throw them away.
The chemicals and compounds inside them can pollute the soil and water, yet about 11 cartridges per second are thrown in the trash.
A lot of ink and toner manufacturers have created programs that help people turn in their used cartridges to get recycled instead of getting thrown away.
HP, for example, has a whole program dedicated to helping its customers recycle their cartridges.
You can either drop your cartridges off at a box at an office supply store that partners with HP or mail them in for free using HP prepaid packaging.
But, there are also some great ways to make some money off your used cartridges.
Since we always cover unique ways to make some extra cash here, we’re going to let you know how you can make some money off old ink or toner cartridges too.
Recycling is great but getting a little something from your good deed is even better!
Why Recycle Ink Cartridges?
Recycling used ink cartridges is incredibly important for the environment.
When you recycle them, the ink and the cartridge won’t end up in a landfill.
Instead, those cartridges will get reused to either make new ones or use as refillable cartridges.
In addition to helping the environment, you can also help to keep costs down for you when you recycle used ink cartridges!
The recycling process allows manufacturers to spend less on sourcing new materials because they can reuse what they have to continue to produce ink cartridges.
The less a company has to spend for materials, the less it needs to charge you for the product.
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How to Sell Used Toner Cartridges or Ink Cartridges
Sell Them to Used Cartridge Buy-Back Sites
What’s the best place to recycle ink cartridges for cash?
The first places you might want to check out are cartridge buy-back sites.
These are websites specifically designed to buy back your used cartridges to refill and resell or recycle them.
This can be the easiest route to go if you don’t want to spend time creating your own listings to sell your cartridges or tracking down other avenues for selling them.
You ship your cartridges in according to the website guidelines and you get paid for them.
Here are a few of the top places to check out and see what one you like best:
This site accepts used laptops, cell phones, other electronics, and used ink cartridges and toner.
You can choose to use your donation of ink cartridges to get money back for a business, a school, a fundraising opportunity, a charity, or even yourself.
To get free shipping for your cartridges, you need to send in at least 25 of them.
The best way to do that for this site is to gather up your friends and family and have them all pitch in.
Once the company receives your cartridges and checks them over, you can get a check for your donation.
Cartridges For Kids is a unique organization that focuses on fundraising for schools through the donation of used ink and toner cartridges.
You can start your own fundraiser for a school of your choice by gathering up as many used ink cartridges as you can and sending them in.
You might post flyers around your neighborhood, put an ad in the newspaper or on Facebook, or see if the school can pass out flyers to each student to make parents aware.
Have a drop-off location set up in the school to gather the cartridges.
Then pack up a box and request a label from the company to ship.
Many ink cartridges will pay somewhere in the $0.12 – $0.60 range, but others go up closer to $1.
Dazz Cycle is a little different than others.
Instead of giving you money for your in cartridges, it gives your child’s school the cash!
Think of it as a unique fundraiser to help your schools get more money.
The site can pay schools via check or give them a credit toward a purchase of ink cartridges through the site.
Either way, they’re getting some cash out of cartridges you no longer need!
You can check out the accepted brands and types of cartridges and their prices on the site.
Everything is very transparent, which is always a bonus!
There are some cartridges that the site will accept for recycling but will not pay for, so make sure you pay attention to those.
You can sell most used ink cartridges here for anywhere between $0.25 and $2.50.
It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps when it comes to money for education.
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Schools can also compete with each other to earn extra monthly cash prizes by turning in the most ink cartridges.
This free fundraiser is a good option for schools or groups to raise some money for their activities.
All you need to do to get started is let people know that you’re collecting ink cartridges to raise money.
In addition to recycling used ink cartridges, you can also recycle unused ink cartridges – maybe those you have extra of that won’t fit in a new printer or those that have expired.
The company even takes old printers off your hands, so there are plenty of ways to raise money with this organization.
Some cartridges will pay as much as $4 here!
Kind of like Dazz Cycle does for schools, Evolve Recycling does the same for businesses.
This company will pay businesses and organizations to recycle used ink cartridges instead of throwing them away.
Imagine how helpful this can be for the environment when large businesses get involved!
If you work for a company that doesn’t currently implement any recycling efforts for ink, then this can be a great option for you to mention to your superiors.
The shipping materials and postage to send in toner and ink cartridges are free.
Your earnings will accumulate in your account until your organization reaches $25, and then you’ll receive a check.
Once you register, you can view a full price list to see what items are accepted and how much you can get for them.
The only catch is that you’ll need to send in at least 20 items, or 20 pounds worth of cartridges, for your shipment to be accepted.
No, you won’t necessarily get any money for yourself out of this, but it’s a great way to help your organization be a little greener.
Funding Factory is another organization that helps schools and groups fundraise for their activities through ink and toner donations.
You can check the company’s qualifying list of cartridges before setting up a fundraiser, and you can print this list to hand out to donors you’re collecting from.
This company will not accept toner cartridges, though.
You can sell a variety of ink cartridges that haven’t yet been recycled to InketCartridge.com for some cash.
Your cartridges will need to be in good condition, though, with no leaks, rusting, or damage to the cartridges themselves.
The company also allows you to use its buyback program like a fundraiser for your school or organization, as it accepts cartridges in large quantities.
The site lists what cartridges the company accepts and how much you can expect to receive for all accepted ones, most of them within the range of $0.10-$0.50.
This company focuses on helping you raise money for schools through recycling your used ink cartridges.
To qualify for a fundraiser, you’ll need to be able to collect at least 30 cartridges, after which the organization will send you free shipping labels to get them all sent in.
You can send both laser and inkjet cartridges, with prices as high as $2.50 for some inkjet cartridges and $5 for some laser cartridges.
You can also send in toner, which can be as high as $4 per item!
The good news is that if you want to keep what you collect for yourself rather than donate the proceeds to a school or organization, you can – but make sure those who might help you collect are aware of this before you start!
This site has a simple process for you to recycle your ink cartridges without having to step foot in a store or spend a bunch of time collecting ink cartridges for fundraisers.
If you only have a few cartridges you want to get rid of, you can do that here and get a little spare change for them.
You just need to search the site for your specific cartridges, print your free shipping label, and send them in.
The company pays you by check for your recycled cartridges once it receives your shipment.
Or, if you’d like to go a little bigger in your efforts, you can also use this organization to start a fundraiser for your group or activity of choice.
UPDATE 6/2020: NeedEmpty is no longer a working site.
NeedEmpty lets you sell extra ink cartridges that you might not need (good for if you switched printers and have extra!) or empty cartridges.
This site only accepts bulk shipments, so it might be a good idea to pool a bunch of your friends and family to go in on it together and split the profit.
Before you send anything in, you can get a quote via the website.
Plug in all the information for your cartridges and the quantity of each and the company will get you a quote in about 24 hours.
Then, if you accept the quote, you can ship in your cartridges for free using prepaid shipping materials.
You can choose to receive your money via check or PayPal.
You can expect to receive your money in about 20 days from NeedEmpty receiving your shipment.
This service is available in the USA and Canada.
There are also some fundraising options available for schools, churches, and other organizations that could be fun to get into to raise money for nonprofits.
As the name of the site suggests, this organization is all about using your recycled ink cartridges for charity in some way.
First, you can literally collect and send in cartridges to donate the money to charity through the Recycle4Charity program.
There’s also a Recycle4Fundraising program that lets you send in used ink cartridges to raise money for your business, church, or other group.
Or, use the Recycle4Education program to raise money for schools and students in your area.
All of them are free to participate in and for a good cause!
Whether you’re a school, business, or just a person who wants to get cash from their used ink cartridges, you can use this site to do it.
Send in just a few to keep the money or start a fundraiser to go a bit bigger and get others involved.
The program is free to use but you’ll need to make sure you have at least $10 worth of cartridges.
If not, you won’t get a payment.
You can expect your pay via check around 30 days after the company receives your shipment.
Toner Buyer buys empty ink and toner cartridges for free from people in the USA and Puerto Rico.
If you’re outside of those areas, you’ll need to pay shipping costs.
You can view the full pricing list here.
Fill out the information and quantity for your cartridges, click the ‘Sell Us Your Empties’ button, and the company will send you the materials you need to pack and ship them.
Within 21 business days, you should expect to receive your payment.
You can log onto your account at any time after shipping your cartridges to view the status of your shipment and payment.
US Recycling is another place that offers to buy used ink cartridges.
The site says that you can earn up to $3 for each empty cartridge, depending on the type it is.
You can also sell used toner cartridges or unused ink and toner here.
One thing I really like about this place is that you won’t have to spend time filling out a form to receive a quote from the company.
Instead, you can upload a picture of the cartridges you have and fill out your basic information to get a quote.
Most offers arrive in less than an hour!
Alternatively, you can call a customer service representative, let them know what cartridges you have, and receive a quote right over the phone.
Once you accept an offer, the company will ship you the prepaid materials you need to ship everything for free.
Most of the time, you’ll receive a payment for your cartridges in about two weeks from when the company receives your shipment.
Sell Them on eBay
Although cartridge buy-back sites can be the simplest way to go, they don’t usually offer the most money for your cartridges.
One way you can make more is by selling them yourself.
eBay is probably the best way to do that!
If you haven’t yet used eBay to sell anything, then I suggest reading our ultimate guide to selling on eBay.
There’s very much a market for used ink cartridges here.
That’s because other eBay sellers make money by refilling and then selling the empty cartridges they buy.
Of course, they need empty ones to continue doing this.
I’ve sold my HP printer cartridges on eBay before for anywhere from $3 to $8 each.
I’ve seen others go for much more, especially if it’s a more expensive and hard-to-find cartridge.
Mine are fairly inexpensive and one of the more common ones to find, so prices for them tend to be lower.
But, a quick search I just did for my cartridges turned up several results ranging from $3 to $10 a piece.
That means that, if you have cartridges that are more expensive and less common than mine, you can shoot for more like $5 to $15 a piece.
Do some research and look for listings for your cartridge. Be sure to specify “empty” cartridges in your search.
You might notice that the best way to do this is to sell a bunch of cartridges at once.
Most people would rather pay for a bulk order than separate cartridges because it helps them save on shipping costs.
I once stocked up 10 black and color cartridges and sold them for $30 plus shipping costs on eBay with a fixed price listing.
They sold in less than 24 hours, so I probably could have even squeezed a little more out of them!
It may not be the quickest and simplest way to earn cash from your cartridges, but you’ll get more out of them than with buy-back sites.
In your listing headline and description, be sure to include the word “virgin” or phrase “never refilled”.
These terms indicate that the cartridges are genuine, never reused cartridges that have only been filled by the original manufacturer.
Trust me, this makes them much more valuable to buyers!
Sell Them on Selling Apps or Sites
There are plenty of other selling sites besides eBay that you can sell used cartridges to – you never know who might need them for their ink refilling business or just to refill for personal use.
They’re all free to list on, so you won’t lose out just by trying.
Ask Your Local Office Supply Store
Many office supply stores give you credit for recycling your ink and toner cartridges!
Office Depot, for example, has a rewards program for people who turn in their ink cartridges.
You can earn $2 per cartridge in rewards. The only catch is that you need to buy at least $10 worth of items that same month to be eligible.
But, you can turn in up to 10 cartridges each month, which can give you $20 in rewards.
Staples also has a similar program that pays $2 in rewards for each cartridge you turn in.
You’re eligible as long as you purchase at least $30 worth of ink or toner within 180 days prior to your cartridge turn-in.
If you have any local office supply stores in your town or city, you should ask them if they have similar programs.
If not, they might be interested in starting one – and may even offer better rewards than the big chain stores!
Or, Try a Big Box Store
Instead of office supply stores, you can also try big box stores, like Best Buy, Walmart, and other places that sell ink cartridges, printers, and similar items.
Sometimes, they’ll have their own programs for buying back your used stuff, and ink cartridges could be on the list.
So, call around to the stores near you to see what they might accept.
Target, for example, is very recyclable-focused with its in-store recycling kiosks that accept anything from aluminum cans to electronics.
You can use those kiosks to recycle your ink cartridges, and other stores could have something similar set up that you just aren’t aware of yet.
Use Earth911 to Recycle for Cash
You can use Earth911 to find recycling centers near you that accept used ink cartridges.
Not all centers pay for them, but some will!
Just give them a call, let them know what you have, and see if you can work something out.
Click this link to go directly to the search page for centers that accept ink cartridges.
Plug in your zip code and the site will pull up the centers closest to you.
Ways to Save on New Cartridges
I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share a couple of ways to save money on more ink cartridges!
I know how expensive ink can be, especially when you use your printer a lot for a home office or homeschooling purposes.
Here are a few awesome ways to save money on new cartridges:
Head to Costco
Costco refills used ink cartridges for as low as $6.99!
That’s a huge savings over what you could purchase them for at the store or online.
All you need to do is take your used cartridges into the Photo Center at your local Costco.
Drop them off, do your shopping, and come back to pick them up when you’re done.
Costco says that you can save as much as 60% off regular ink prices by taking advantage of this service!
Refill Them Yourself
I’ve never tried doing it myself, but I know people who refill their ink cartridges themselves and swear by it.
You can search for “ink refill kits” on eBay, Walmart.com, Amazon, and other online retailers.
The kits themselves usually have enough ink in them to refill your cartridges a few times, so you’ll get more out of them than a regular cartridge.
Just be sure to buy the right refill kit for your cartridges and pay close attention to the instructions or you’ll risk damaging your cartridge and your printer.
Join HP Instant Ink
If you have a HP printer, then you should consider joining HP Instant Ink.
I’ve been a member for two years now and it’s saved me so much money on ink cartridges!
HP Instant Ink is a subscription program for ink.
You can pay monthly.
There are different prices you pay depending on how many pages you typically print per month.
When your printer runs low on ink, it sends the information to HP and the company will send you new cartridges before you run out.
You don’t have to spend anything for the cartridges because your monthly payment covers it all.
Subscriptions start at $2.99 per month for 50 pages.
Or, choose the free plan if you do very little printing and don’t expect to print more than 15 pages each month!
The best part is the HP Instant Ink cartridges are bigger than regular ones, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them as often.
Shop for Discount Ink
This may sound like a no-brainer, but maybe you’re not sure exactly where to go to find discounted ink cartridges or how to find them.
Sometimes, stores will have sales on ink if some packages have been sitting on the shelf for a while and will expire soon (yes – those ink cartridges have expiration dates!).
So you can sometimes find deals just by heading to the store.
If you do spot a package that will expire soon – say, within a couple of weeks – you might be able to ask a manager if you can get a discount.
Also, try ink manufacturer websites.
There are often promotions or discount codes you can find for online purchases to save you money that you wouldn’t be able to save in-store.
When you shop online, you can also use cashback shopping sites like Swagbucks to get even more money back!
For example, Swagbucks lets you shop for ink with Office Depot, Epson, Inkfarm, and other ink stores to get cash back into your Swagbucks account that you can put toward gift cards of your choice.
Finally, consider shopping for ink on eBay or Amazon.
I mentioned eBay as a great place to sell your used ink cartridges, but you can usually find excellent deals on purchasing new ones, too.
Many sellers also have refilled ink cartridges that can save you a bunch of money over purchasing new ones.
Conclusion: Recycle Empty Ink Cartridges for Cash
It’s always awesome when you can save money, but now you know how to both save and make money from your used ink and toner cartridges!
Do you know of any other ways to sell used ink cartridges?
How do you save money on your new ones?
Let us know in a comment!
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