Guest post by Ben Randall
We live in a wasteful society. After buying products, many people are all too used to throwing them away, and haven’t quite grasped the concept of recycling yet. But we are getting there slowly. To work towards a greener future we must look at specific ways to be more economical, which will allow us to stop pumping so much hazardous gas into the atmosphere. It probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind, but one way we can significantly reduce our carbon waste output is through making a worldwide effort to recycle ink cartridges. Chuck a printer cartridge into a landfill heap and it will take 450 years to decompose. Ink cartridges have a huge negative impact on our environment; here is a breakdown of why this is so.
It is evident that some of us, ranging from the little guy to huge corporations, make the effort to recycle ink cartridges. Every year 2.5 million ink cartridges are sent off to recycling plants and become re-used – however a staggering 10 million end up in a landfill site. According to a Planet Ark report in 2006, if 18 million ink cartridges were sent to the dump this would create waste of 3,000 tonnes of plastic, 2,500 ferrous metals, 400 tonnes of aluminium & 26 kilograms (about 58 pounds) of precious metals. On top of all this, that 3,000 tonnes of plastic can take up to well over a couple of hundred years to degenerate.
Have you ever thought what makes up your printer cartridge? The packaging comes from timber, the plastic is from the world’s supply of crude oil, and steel is from iron ore etc. This is a big waste of fossil fuels and raw materials. Since plastics have been around for a relatively small time in the grand scheme of things, people are beginning to worry with the amount of plastics contained in landfill sites – space is becoming an issue.
Nature becomes toxic
When all this waste is dumped, it doesn’t sit there – it is interacted with, and also interacts. Not only does wildlife mistake plastics for food, but it can destroy their natural habitats also. Water can also become contaminated by the ink cartridges and also poison the soil, effectively destroying the ecosystem for generations. With materials from printer cartridges not being biodegradable, the surrounding ecosystem, both flora and fauna, will not have a future.
If we don’t act quickly, we will be punishing future generations of children for years to come. It may not seem at the moment like the world has a massive problem, but if in 450 years’ time and we carry on the way we currently are… there is little hope for us. Animals with become extinct, ground will become unusable , water will become contaminated and space will run out – it’s slightly reminiscent of a dark, dank dystopic world we see in films all the time. There are plenty of different recycling plants around the world to get involved in which actually offer reward points as incentive for recycling… a win for you and a win for nature!