Japan Goes Postal on Printer Cartridge Recycling

Six of the biggest printer vendors in Japan have linked up with Japan Post to enable consumers to drop-off used printer cartridges for recycling at thousands of post offices across Japan.

The new system started last week and is being supported by Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark. Under it used ink-jet printer cartridges from the six companies can be dropped into a bin at any of 3,638 post offices.

From there the cartridges are returned through the postal system to a sorting plant where they are separated by maker and then returned to the respective companies for recycling.

No additional charges are levied on consumers for making use of the service.

At present cartridge recycling bins are placed in many consumer electronics stores but their availability in post offices should make it easier for consumers to return used cartridges.

About 200 million ink cartridges are sold each year in Japan but only about 10 percent are returned for recycling, according to figures from the manufacturers. The companies hope to see this increase with the new system.

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