Matthew Murray at PC Magazine and Leon Kaye at Triple Pundit recently toured the Hewlett-Packard printer cartridge recycling facility in Smyrna. The 80,000-square-foot facility opened its doors in 2011 and has since helped HP save tons and tons of plastic from ending up in landfills — 28.6 million pounds last year alone. And the process is being continually refined.
For years the cartridges were shredded with all the materials ending up jumbled together. But now they are disassembled before shredding, which requires less energy, less water and a cleaner batch of plastic for the next generation of cartridges. The new process is also more environmentally responsible because the precious metals like gold and palladium in those cartridges can be melted down with less fuel and less toxins. The cycle is working: HP estimates that some cartridges are entering their ninth and tenth phase of life.