MILLIONS of printer cartridges reach the end of their lives in Australia every year, and if sent to landfill can take between 450 to 1000 years to break down.
Kiama residents are being asked to play their part to help reduce the problem, following the development of an asphalt product made with used toner powder extracted from recycled toner cartridges.
TonerPave asphalt uses recycled cartridges, predominantly from the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program, which are shredded to separate raw materials for reuse.
The toner powder is then further refined to make an additive called Modified Toner Polymer, which helps improve the performance of the asphalt, potentially leading to lower whole-of-life costs.
By recycling them through Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, the valuable resources they contain are kept out of landfill and can be put to new uses.
As well as toner powder, printer cartridges contain valuable materials such as ferrous metal, stainless steel, aluminium, ink, and many types of plastics, all of which can be recycled.
In addition to asphalt, the recycled materials can be turned into pens, rulers, and the likes of park benches, fencing and signs.
More than 24 million cartridges, equivalent to 11,000 tonnes of plastics, metals, inks and toners, have been recycled since the program began in 2003. Within the Kiama Municipal Council area, residents and businesses have returned a total of 13,042 cartridges in that time.
Printer cartridges can be dropped off for recycling in Cartridges 4 Planet Ark collection boxes.
Residents can find the nearest cartridge recycling drop-off location, which include Australia Post in Kiama and Gainsborough, as well as many other locations by visiting the RecyclingNearYou.com.au website.
Workplaces may also be eligible for a free collection box.
Planet Ark Environmental Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit organisation.