We have two Sharp fax machines in our office. Every so often I come across a toner cartridge that includes a U.S.P.S. prepaid return address label that you can use to return the empty cartridges for recycling. We go through about one cartridge a month between the two machines and in the two years that we’ve had them I’ve only seen three or four of these labels. So what happens to the other cartridges? Before I was aware of Sharp’s commitment (link above) to the environment I was just throwing them away. Now, since I know they can be returned, I pile them up in the corner next to my desk and wait for a label to appear with one of my next orders. I have other recyclables too, so you should know that sometimes that pile can stack up. At times, my work area looks like a recycling center.
I finally got curious and had some free time. I checked Sharp’s website to see if I could find any information about their consumer-end recycling procedures. Nada. They do have a document online referred to as their Full Activity Report that details their internal achievements and statistics relating to their environmental conscience. I couldn’t find any information on how I could recycle my used toner, at least not on their U.S. site. Did you know they have a Canadian site? They do (Sharp Electronics of Canada), and guess what? They have a PDF version of a downloadable label that you can print and use to return your used toner cartridges. My only problem is that it’s for Canadians to ship to their Canadian facility. It’s not valid here in the U.S.
I found a page on their U.S. site where I could submit a support request. Even though the link is intended for product support, I asked my question and voiced my concerns. I also called the dealer we purchased the machine through, Select Business Systems. I asked the person who answered the phone what I could do. She said I should just throw away the used toner cartridges because they don’t recycle them. I explained that sometimes there was a label included with the cartridge but most of the time there was not. She said they weren’t responsible because the toner cartridges come directly from Sharp. There is nothing she can do. I asked if they had extra labels for customers like me that want to recycle the cartridges. Nope. She said she was sorry she couldn’t help me.
Who uses HP printers? We have several of them here. I’ll try not to sound too much like a commercial. HP puts a prepaid return shipping label (UPS) in every toner cartridge so you can return it for recycling when it’s empty? You just put the used cartridge back in it’s box (or the box of a new one you just got to replace it with), close it up, and drop it off somewhere for UPS to pick up (many businesses also have a UPS guy that comes every day just to see if you have anything to ship). If that’s too much trouble, HP also has an arrangement with Office Depot to help with their recycling efforts. Go here for more about their committment to the environment.
Too bad HP doesn’t make a toner cartridge that will work in my Sharp fax machines.