We get asked this question a lot and it’s one that appears on various forums, gets discussed at length and some waste kit resellers even encourage it as an “environmentally friendly” approach to waste ink.
So, to cut to the chase; No, we do not recommend you re-use your waste ink in your printer cartridges, your CIS system or basically anything that means it’ll go back into your printer.
Well, let’s consider what your Printer Potty potentially collects.
- Ink, of various different colours and proportions of colour
- Ink from a variety of different manufacturers (if you’re buying from varied sources)
- A mix of pigment and dye inks together (if your printer uses both types, eg: XP-600)
- Dust, clumps of dried up ink, fibres from the cleaning/resting pad
- Cleaning Solution (if you use it)
- … and so on…
What that means in terms of “saving”, printing, and the environment.
The problem is all the rubbish that gets collected with your ink. Put simply, any dust or other debris is going to cause more clogging which means more head cleaning and more waste. Even if you don’t clean the printhead more you’re getting poorer quality prints.
Then there’s air. Sounds innocuous enough but remember ink is designed to dry quickly when it’s on the paper so, even when it’s in a Printer Potty tank it’s evaporating off some of the ink base (fluid) and becoming slightly thicker.
By now you probably have a few alarm bells ringing. so you can probably guess that mixing inks isn’t such a great idea either.
The bottom line is that re-using ink actually generates more waste, not less.
What about mixing 1 part waste to X parts new black ink
To be blunt, it won’t save you anything… Any old ink is going to increase your waste generation and probably more than you would have generated if you’d used all new ink.
But, the environment…
Yes, throwing away waste ink is not ideal and it is effectively a pollutant, but if you want to save on pollution, consider alternative solutions to cartridges like CIS systems, or remember that installing a Printer Potty rather than buying a new printer saves on electronic waste. Nothing is ever perfect but re-using waste ink in your printer is likely to do more harm than good.
If you want to re-use your waste ink, think about ways to use it for things like tie-dyeing, caligraphy or any manner of other craft activities (be aware that the inks are unlikely to be suitable for use by children!) but don’t use it in your printer.
If you have a suggestions as to what else waste ink could be used for then please let us know and we’ll add them to our list.