Staples’ Ink Cartridge Recycling Puts ‘Rewards’ in Your Wallet

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On Feb. 1,  Staples, Inc.  will become the first national retailer to offer a comprehensive ink and toner recycling program that rewards customers for recycling any brand or type of cartridge, regardless of manufacturer. As a part of their EcoEasy suite of green initiatives, Staples now provides an opportunity for customers to earn $3 back in Staples Rewards on any brand or type of ink or toner, just for choosing to recycle them instead of throwing them away.

Staples now accepts all types of ink cartridges for recycling. -

Staples now accepts all types of ink cartridges for recycling. –

“The emergence of user-friendly ink and toner recycling programs like the one Staples is offering is an important step in helping Americans make more environmentally-friendly choices in their daily lives by keeping valuable products and materials out of the waste stream,” said Matt Hale, drector of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery for the U.S. EPA.

In 2008, the company recycled more than 22 million ink and toner cartridges. The company expects to recycle more than 30 million cartridges in 2009 and become the world’s largest ink and toner recycler with its current initiatives.

According to Staples, 70 percent of cartridges used worldwide are thrown away, with almost eight cartridges tossed in the trash per second in the U.S.

Customers can recycle up to 10 cartridges per calendar month, and Rewards are sent on a monthly basis. The money can be used on any Staples purchase in store, online or over the phone.

In 2008, the company also recycled approximately four million pounds of electronic waste and opened its first two stores registered with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Feature image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

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  1. Please notice that Staples has been promoting this to look like it’s now an all-encompassing program and is very subtly inserting the detail that you can now ONLY EARN MONEY ON TEN INKJETS A MONTH. Whereas before a school could earn around $270 (3 per day) per month, now Staples is limiting them to $30.

    Everyone has taken the Staples press release hook, line and sinker without noticing that Staples is actually not expanding the program at all. It is drastically cutting the monthly value that people can earn at Staples.

  2. Pingback: Staples' Ink and Toner Cartridge Recycling Program | Got2BeGreen

  3. Staples is not promoting ink recycling anymore, and is no longer the leader in this effort. How wrong of Staples to promote the end of its ink recycling program as the beginning of an expanded ink recycling program. Its competitors, Office Max and Office Depot have now surpassed Staples as environmental leaders, in encouraging valued customers to make the effort to recycle the cartridges rather than easily toss them away.

  4. I’ve been participating in the ink cartridge recycling program for the past few years and have saved quite a bit on purchases I needed to make at Staples. The program used to give you a $3 coupon, on-site, when you recycled the cartridges (up to 3). I believe now, they allow you to recycle 3 and you are sent the $3 coupon on a monthly basis. It’s a little less convenient, but at least allows you to save the coupon for what you really need at Staples, rather than using them for an impulse purchase, with the coupon in hand. I love the fact that you can use the $3 coupons for anything in the store, not just more ink, because I actually can get a better deal on ink cartridges elsewhere. That doesn’t stop you from recycling ink cartridges you buy elsewhere. Staples will take them, whether or not you purchased them there, and apparently are taking all kinds of cartridges now! Great deal all around and such an easy way to help in a worldwide recycling effort!
    -Corissa St. Laurent, Editorial Director, The Fiddlehead Loop, New England’s Guide to Practical and Resourceful Living

  5. On Dec. 05,2008, I turned in 3 ink cartridges and haven’t received any coupons. I turned in another 3 on the 8th and no refund. I turned in another 3 on Jan. 16. No refund.

  6. Constance Tyler, you should receive your rewards coupon for the ink cartridges you recycled in December, 2008 sometime this week. That was the old program. I got my coupon for all my cartridges recycled in December, 2008 this week. The new program reduces the amount allowed to be recycled for Rewards (although you can recycle as many as you want, you only get a max of $30 Rewards for the month). I understand that it takes 3-6 weeks for the coupon to be issued. It will probably be closer to 6 weeks for receipt of the Rewards coupons, especially if alot of people participate in this program. For those that recycle for schools and such, Office Max is still an option, allowing $1 a cartridge up to $300 a month.

  7. In the good old days, you took in three cartridges and the $9 was applied to your purchase, in our case more cartridges. Then when the coupon program came along, nothing. So we quit taking the empties to Staples so now we have them spilling out all over the floor. Thanks for the tip, I will be looking to Office Max or one of the others to get in store service.

  8. I have been using the Planet Green program for recycling my printer cartridges (and cell phones) for over a year now and am happier than I could be with Staples. I tried out to the Staples program about 6 months ago and it wasn’t satisfactory. As part of a nonprofit, we get in a substantial amount of cartridges and to see Staples impose a limit on this was inconvenient. Plus, the Planet Green program has perks and pays more for cartridges. They don’t give me a reward coupon to spend in store. They give us a check that can be used for our programs.

  9. At this point at least Staples takes Canon and Epson Carts, Office Depot will only take certain ones, which does not include mine, ( Canon , Epson ).

  10. As noted above, Staples is about your only choice if you want anything back on Canon and Epson cartridges. I’m not sure how Office Max or Office Depot can be considered “environmental leaders” (as someone called them above) when they no longer accept Canon or Epson. (And it’s not that they won’t give you money back; they won’t accept them period as their recycler doesn’t want them.) The last time I went to Office Max they took my old Canon cartridge and threw it in the trash. (Very environmentally friendly.)

  11. I personally will be heading to Staples and happy to be able to get $$ back for my Canon Inkjets…
    Way back I took a bag full and got $72 on the spot! (They quit taking Canon for a while…but I saved them anyway)..Now they are taking them again! Yeah! Hey I don’t care if I have to wait for the coupon…its $$ I would not have had and will have no problem finding something to buy.

  12. I am not sure about all Staples, but the one near to my house is not recycling at all. They have all of their trash convined in one dumpster. I know because I am all about recycling and I found that the trow away new things. Someone told me about it and I go at least twice a month to check on their dumpster, I got calendars, agendas, leather chairs, desks, ink, paper, invitations, software, and more. And it makes me very upset they just put all of those good things on the dumpster with their trash and “recycling” ink cartriges, toner, electronics, etc. I wish we can do something about this. The same person told me that every single household separates their trash and the county just mix it at their “waiste processing place”, we have to work on this issues!!!

  13. Office Depot only takes anything except brother, epson, and canon-ruling out a lot of people. They used to give 3$ off coupons per cartridge that worked on anything in the store, and, you could recycle up to 25 cartridges a day, and you could use 3 per transaction. Now, all the credit goes to your rewards card and gets turned into a gift card every quarter, and you can recycle 10 a day, and there is no limit that I know of for how much money can be earned. The real downer that limits it is the no canon brother or epson and the fact that the cartridges need print heads which many of even the Hp’s now don’t. I just thought I would type this for someone to compare to since I am very familiar with office Depot’s system.

    I still think staples is a plus for those people who only have a few cartridges here and there that are epson canon or brother brand, or that have no print heads. I think the recycling is designed for individuals really and they would expect businesses and larger companies not to care about getting little rewards and so on-they just want a good rep for recycling. Schools I guess fall into that category… (for staples, od and om at least)

  14. You know folks. It would be considered drastically more environmentally friendly if folks stopped buying new cartridges altogether and simply purchase a aftermarket “refillable ink cartridge set” for which you can refill the cartridges yourself with bulk ink. Not only is it better for the environment, you all save a lot of money, plus you get to put the screws on the printer manufacturers for charging an arm and leg for cartridges.

    i have an HP printer which takes 6 color cartridges and 1 b&w. To replace all of these, it would cost around $60 from hp, not to mention the waste….What I ended doing was buying something like this:, which was $25, plus some refillable ink (another $25) which should allow me to refill at catridges at 3-4 times.

    For small businesses, some companies sell what are called “continuous ink systems”, for which you never need to replace the cartridges. Basically, these things work as follows: you install “blank cartridges” into your printer. These catridges don’t actually contain any ink, but have tubing to external ink tanks. You simply open these external ink tanks and fill them up with ink.


    (Note, I’m not affliated to any of the stores in the links i posted).

  15. on april 1st 2009 i turned 10 ink cartridges at staples and haven’t received any coupons. is this a serious company o you guys are only fooling people?

  16. At Staples you have to first sign up for a Rewards Card and when you turn in your recycle ink or toner cartridges (they take all brands!) you have to show them that card so your account will get credit for them. You can only recycle up to 3 per day with a total of 10 per month which means you have to make at least 4 trips during the month to get your maximum amount of $30 credit. (3x$3 + 1x$3)
    If you register for your Staples Rewards online then you will get an email with your printable Rewards Certificate near the beginning of each month, this will contain the rewards that you earned for the previous month. Or you can wait until it is snail-mailed to you which takes considerably longer, but it does come.

    For Stacy who says she recycled 10 cartridges in one day, she will only get credit for 3 of them ($9) because of their limit of 3 per day and she will only get that if she had them scan her Rewards Card then.

    Does anyone know the current information (as of 2009) on whether Office Max or Office Depot gives money back or credit for recycled ink cartridges? And if so, which brands do they accept?

    Karin in Orlando

  17. Ever since Staples changed to 10 per month I been recylcing 10 at one time and I been getting credit.

  18. Regarding ink cartridge recycling:

    Office Depot:

    “Starting 12/07/2008: up to 5 qualifying cartridges per day. Your Recycling Rewards will not exceed the amount of your total qualifying annual Office Depot purchases (Qualifying purchases exclude taxes; shipping; postage stamps; and prepaid gift, merchandise, debit, phone or services cards). Unearned Recycling Rewards will carry over from quarter to quarter and will expire at the end of the year. You can recycle additional cartridges but Recycling Rewards will only be issued for 5 per day.”

    “Qualifying ink cartridges are HP, Lexmark, Dell and Office Depot® brand. Qualifying toner cartridges are HP, Brother, Canon, Lexmark, Dell, Samsung and Office Depot® brand. HP 02 cartridges and ink tanks do not qualify.”


    Q. What is the maximum amount you can earn with the MaxPerks Recycling in-store program?
    A. You may bring in up to ten (10) HP, Dell or Lexmark ink and toner cartridges per week (Sunday through Saturday), totaling a $30 maximum reward per week. [There is no per day limit, just the weekly limit.]

    Q. What ink and toner cartridge brands qualify for the in-store and/or mail-in MaxPerks Recycling program?
    A. All Dell, HP and Lexmark brands qualify for the program. Qualified items are determined by OfficeMax, at its sole discretion. Visit MaxPerks Recycling for the most current qualified items.


    “[U]p to 10 [cartridges] per calendar month per customer and receive $3 back in Staples Rewards per cartridge. Limit one Staples Rewards account per address. We will recycle additional cartridges but rewards will only be issued for 10 per calendar month per customer. Your ink recycling reward will arrive each month, separately from your standard Staples Rewards statement.”

    “You can recycle ANY ink cartridge – no matter which brand! This includes Brother®, Epson® and Canon ink or toner cartridges.”

    As per Jim, Staples does not have a per day limit, just the per month limit.

    Also, for Staples Rewards Premier members, the monthly limit is 20 cartridges.

  19. I also use to also get 3.00cupons for my ink at staples,this is where i purhase all my ink .they started the reward program and i left 10 ink cartages on5/08/09 iv’e never recieved any thing for these,in july i went to purchase more ink, they told me i’d recieve a rewards cupon,i never did. this month sept 09 i got a rewards for 3,40 whats up with that. i guess i will go buy my ink someware ealse.

  20. You can bring an ink cartrige to office depot everytime you go and get money off your purchase. Just bring one each time.

  21. I have turned in at least 14 cartridges for credit and to this date have not received any info onmy credit status Is it some kind of gimmik??? Never had this problem when we were credit in the past and able to get the three bucks back at the time of the turn in…..Anyone else have that problem??

  22. I turn n cartirdges at Staples (10 a month) and Office Max (10 a week) and haven’t had problem receiving credit for either. Last year I was able to return many to Office Deport. they kept changing the number of cartridges per day – at one point it was 25 a day (that’s $75 in credit). Apprently many people were taking them up on these redemptions because late in the year it changed ot the restrictive “sure you can recycle them here but only for the amount of dollars your sped with us.” At tthe time, it was sitll unclear, so I called their custumer service re: credit only in the amount of your actual purchaes and the rep said no, you would get a gift card in whatever amount you had turned in at the end of the quarter. As I was turning in the the then daily max amount, I was following by growing credit totl on thier website and then notice dit wasn’t growing anymorr though I had continued to turn the cartridges in. Calling cosutmer service again, the rep said she didn’t undertstand why I had been given even that much credit. I rexplained I was turning in the cartridges to by paper for my church, which didn’t seem to change anything in her mind. Nonetheless, later I was credited the full amount. I won’t be recycling at Office Depot again until they change their policy back to a more liberal one. I am sure it had been cut back due to the economy.

  23. The problem with Office Depot is that in order to get your reward, you must first spend money there and have it recorded to your reward account. I turned in 3 cartridges in June,unaware of their policy change. But because I only had $9 in rewards, I didn’t get a check that quarter because Office Depot doesn’t cut a check until I have $10 in rewards. In order to get that $10, I must have already on record that I have spent $10 according to my rewards account. So when my husband runs in there to pick something up and doesn’t bother to give them our phone number to link to our account, we get no credit. And any balances expire at the end of the calendar year so I had to go there and buy more stuff to trigger my check to be cut. Here it is December and next month I will finally get a check for those cartridges that I recycled in June. Ugh! I’m going to Staples from now on.

  24. I need someone to contact me about the Rewards program for ink cartridges returned to store.
    I didn’t receive anything for my credit for $9.00 and I showed the cashier my receipt and she said they were suppose to send me a rewards coupon. They didn’t. So I just bought another 2 pack of black ink cart. a short time ago and nothing.
    Is this how Staples now does business by ripping people off?

    You can contact me at my home phone- 248 398 3329. A response would be appreciated. I noticed a comment hee where someone else had the same problem.

    Carolyn Watson

  25. my ID#3455875876 On 8/31/09 I turned in l0 ink recycling limi 725137 for instant savings #20705 and on l0/997/09 I turned in 6 ink recycling limi 725137 for instan savings #20705 to date I have not received checks for either of these recycled cartridges and am not sure why. Last year I had the same problem and after I called and talked to someone I did receive a nice check for my recycling and I do appreciate that. Please see what is holding up my check for these cartridges and it will be much appreciated. Thank you Patricia Hansen (patandcarlyuma@msn.con) My last inquiry was by telephone.

  26. Office Depot is the bomb. You can only get back in rewards what you spend is right. I spent about $1450 at office Depot from Oct09-Dec09 and turned in 460 ink and office depot sent me a rewards card of $1380 total to use as I see fit

  27. Staples, Office Max, Office Depot aren’t the proper solution. They do not “Reuse” first, then recycle. They simply collect cartridges to avoid the remanufacturing market to get their hands on them. NCS has formed the Environmental Protection Alliance who offers a ZERO LANDFILL SOLUTION. Please visit our website for more education on our program and what we can offer. Staples and these other “super stores” offer money back to you can go back to them and over pay for more ink & toner. Our supplies are much more cost effective and we include our zero landfill recycling program for FREE!!!!!! You can also earn Certifications through the EPA as we track and report all your results. Does Staples and Office Depot track how much landfill waste you prevented? Are you getting any credit? Do they certify you? Our program is a no brainer solution for companies, schools, organizations, municipalities, libraries, associations, property managers, etc…..Contact me for more details and start earning the credit you deserve for the efforts you are making. (

  28. I don’t seen any relevance to recycle with Staples. Their whole store has signs labelled with cost savings and rebate for turning in cartridges…well they are a bunch of liars, I would only want to see cost savings at the cash register. I was misled by their store advertising. It said $2.00 off a cartridge,
    and $1.65 in rewards savings, Ha what a laugh. Considering their price for a new cartridges is well above everybody else, I just thought they were making up the difference from recycled cartridges.
    So I ended up buying two new cartridges at the highest price I have ever bought since I bought by Printer. I have an Epson 7 cartridge printer, I usually pay about $11.99 at Fry’s (used to be $10.99),
    to a whopping $15.99 at Staples, That $118.83 for a full refill and also not worth it. I usually buy online for around $10 ish much better. Although I do wish Epson would have a recycle program like HP has
    I want to be evironmentally responsible, but I do want to be recompensated for my old cartridges: the purchase price of a cartridge is too high!!!!! THE DAMN GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE OFFERING REBATES FOR ALL ENVIROMENTAL RECYCLING FOR COMPANIES AND THE BUCK SHOULD BE PASSED ON TO THE CUSTOMER IN THE FORM OF COST SAVINGS.

  29. i have returned at least 15 ink cartridges and cannot get a refund .staples has the wrong email address. ihave had them chage 3 times but when i check it is always the old address.the number they give me at the store just give me the same runabout to no avail . guess i”ll take them to office depot.i might as well buy my ink there too.

  30. We shopped at Office Max a few days ago, and were told that they are not accepting HP 02 ink cartridges anymore!
    Can anyone here confirm this??

  31. We take our cartridges, 20 per month, to the staples in Berkeley. I just hand them the bag with the cartridges in it, give my phone number to link to the rewards card, and tell them 20 (we have gold rewards), they punch it in and I get a 40.00 rewards certificate the next month. They have never even looked thru the bag to verify the quantity or types of cartridges. Staples current recycle is $2.00 per ink/toner up to 10 per month for standard rewards account, and 20 for gold/premium.

  32. I returned 11 HP 02 cartridges to Office Max. They told me I would recieve a credit of 3.00 ea “next month”
    It did not show up, and all of a sudden any record of this can’t be found. I have the reciept, but their “website” has no record. I am so pissed I could scream.

  33. I dont blame Staples and office max and others much for not paying up the coupons for the returned empty cartridges and toners. I blame the manufacturers HP et al, they make these toners and cartridges and it saves them production cost to simply refill them so the cost of ink will reduce. they are simply sabotaging recycling because people will know it costs little to do the inks and tripple more to produce the toner packs. you see they do not wish us to know that they are making so much money from recycled ink empties. The government should calculate what each recycled toner cartridge saves the companies at production and pay the customers just 5%. its not too much to ask for such patronage The fact is that the companies are the Rip-offs.

    Well it gladens my heart that some smart alecs are making refillable inks so you do not need to buy a new cartridge all the time. you can save your money by buying the cheaper refillables like they do in India. That serves the companies right. They always eat their cakes and want to have it again. Next excuse they will cry reccession and threaten government with bankruptcy.
    They are double faced all of them not one is fair.

  34. You can get your rebates from staples, office depot, whatever… but ive PERSONALLY seen in the DUMPTSTERS of some of these places bags FULL of inkjet cartridges. Im not saying that every store does this, but its disturbing. Your best bet is having your cartridge remanufactured or refilled. But with that you have to go to a reliable source to ensure quality.

    Check out and see if there are any locations near you, they don’t give you a rebate for your empties, but will trade you empties for cartridges they already have refilled and ready to go and you can save anywhere up to 50% over staples(which is keeping mpre in your wallet than what you would have gotten in “staples bucks”) and all that with a 100% guarantee.

    You can even take your old cartridges there if nothing more than to just recycle them!

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