Ink and toner cartridges are expensive, and printer ink alone can cost $13-75 an ounce in the United States. You could actually buy 2,791 gallons of milk or 2,652 gallons of regular gas for the price of one gallon of printer ink.
Because of this, many people have turned to refilling toner cartridges as a way to save money. But is this really the better option?
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of refilling toner cartridges:
When you invest in ink and toner refill kits, you’ll save a significant amount of money over time. You’ll also be putting less of a burden on the environment because you’re recycling ink and toner cartridges that might otherwise end up in landfills after a single use.
People who want printer toner refills don’t even have to do them at home anymore. Many stores and retailers that sell ink cartridges offer refill services, and some accept cartridges to be refilled through the mail.
Refilling toner cartridges can be an unreliable and unpredictable process. Refilling a cartridge can be time consuming; in fact, for people who are new to the process, it can take 10-15 minutes, and that doesn’t include cleaning up the mess afterward. Modern refill kits are tailored to specific ink cartridges, so they’re less likely to create a mess than the old “universal” kits, which were touted as one-size-fits-all. Most of these downsides can be negated by taking the cartridge to a refill service instead of doing it at home.
Another downside is that ink cartridges are usually only good for 4-5 refills before they need to be replaced anyway, and some can only undergo one refill before wearing out.
If toner refilling isn’t for you but you still want to save money and decrease your printer’s environmental impact, there are still ways to do both. Consider sending old cartridges in to be recycled and purchase discount remanufactured (or refilled) cartridges. You’ll be saving money without spending more time than you would to buy a regular cartridge.