How Printer Cartridges Are Recycled

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Photo: HP

Despite goals to have a “paperless” office at work or at home, the reality is that many of us still frequently print everything from boarding passes to driving directions. Printer cartridges are often a sizable expense for us, and they also have a large environmental footprint, too.

Chemicals in the ink, the gold and palladium that allow the printing to work and all that plastic consumes vast amount of resources. This is especially true for Hewlett-Packard, an industry giant in the computer printing industry for a generation

And HP is leading when it comes to recycling those printer cartridges. Ground zero for HP’s recycling operations is in Smyrna, Tenn., 20 miles southeast of Nashville. HP opened the plant in 2001 and eventually doubled its size to 80,000 square feet.

Smack in the middle of warehouses that all look identical, what may look like a bland building on the outside is in the inside host to a bevy of technologies that allow HP’s lucrative printing business to become more sustainable and environmentally responsible. I took a tour last month of the facility at HP’s invitation.

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