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Eco-friendly disposal of ink cartridges

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From recyclable textiles to water-based inks, the fabric printing industry continues to show interest in eco-friendly initiatives. One area that is receiving scrutiny: the appropriate disposal of ink cartridges and related waste. The HP Scitex LX600 and LX800 printers, for example, feature recyclable printheads that users can return through the HP Planet Partner program in select countries. When it comes to used ink cartridges, about 70 percent of the weight is a recyclable cardboard container; the remaining waste is non-hazardous and should be disposed of according to local regulations. In addition, the HP Designjet L25500 printer features recyclable ink cartridges and printheads that may be returned through the HP Planet Partners program.

For its Artistri 2020 printer, DuPont originally provided 1 liter of hard plastic cartridges, which created a lot of changeover and waste. Now, the printer employs a permanent hard cartridge lined with bladder bags of ink. “You’re not throwing away a hard shell every time,” says DuPont’s Patrick Foley. “We also increased the package size to hold more ink.”

Mimaki USA is putting into place a similar system where the ink bags can be recycled. Still others, such as Xennia, supply inks in large containers that can be reused, while Graphics One provides 95 percent of its inks in bulk systems.

Despite manufacturers’ best efforts to keep waste down, print service providers are ultimately responsible for disposal. “Each user needs to be very careful and pay attention to local ordinances when putting anything into the waste stream,” Foley recommends. “The regulations can vary dramatically, even within states.”

Holly O’Dell is a freelance writer in Pine City, Minn., who specializes is interior design, residential construction and architecture.

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