The Ink Bin

Business • Colchester

The Ink Bin is a community recycling initiative for schools, plastic free groups and sustainably motivated individuals. We support collection of home-use ink cartridges and recycle every last cartridge.

  • The Ink Bin's school bin collections for ink cartridges.
  • Sorting through collected ink cartridges.
  • The Ink Bin logo.

Our story

The Ink Bin is an eco initiative for schools as well as a community recycling project for plastic-free groups and sustainably motivated individuals. We support groups and individuals to collect home-use ink cartridges from their home offices and we recycle every last cartridge.

An ink cartridge will take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfill; not to mention the nasty residue that leaks into the land. Furthermore, by placing a large amount of these cartridges back into the circular economy through refill, we can reduce the oil, energy and carbon emissions it would take to produce and transport an original ink cartridge. 70% of ink cartridges globally are still thrown into landfill- that's around 375 million. With the rise in home-working and home-schooling, that is set to continue increasing. To us, that is an educational matter- we want to educate people that they are easy to recycle.

The Ink Bin has a fully qualified teacher available for educational support and has environmental concerns at the core of the organisation. We provide free, personalised collection Ink Bins to our customers and find that our regular users now rely on us for their recycling needs. We place The Ink Bin in easy-to-access community areas such as supermarket entranceways; school reception areas and local libraries.

In our first year of business, we have saved over 10,000 ink cartridges from landfill but we strive to vastly increase this number by the end of our second year.

Our advice

375 million ink cartridges are still sent to landfill every year. With the rise in home working and homeschooling, educating users that ink cartridges are easy to recycle is a top priority. By buying a branded ink cartridge rather than a cheap compatible ink cartridge, you can put your plastic back into the circular economy. It takes around 8 seconds to refill an HP or Canon inkjet cartridge but up to 1000 years for it to decompose.

Refilling of inkjet cartridges through The Ink Bin takes place in the UK.
People generally find it easier to drop their empty ink cartridges into one of our Bins rather than return them in a Freepost envelope. We have a growing culture of recycling and waste streams for recycling individual items, which are growing and becoming a new norm. However, collecting ink cartridges in bulk reduces individualised transportation.

Our metrics

We are using social media to spread the message that home-use ink cartridges are easy to recycle including statistics on their breakdown and energy consumption to produce as well as their leakage into the environment.

We work with individual schools, plastic-free communities, libraries, supermarkets and more but are very keen to get a more national approach to our work; providing an easy drop-off.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area

Circular Economy

Positive Impacts

Less Waste



Response to climate crisis





Business, less than 9 people

Shared by

Becky Baines

Updated Feb, 2024

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