With improved printer efficiencies, less than 10 percent of the toners in each cartridge become waste. However, in earlier models, as much as 20 percent of the toners were lost in the cleaner slump.
Discarded printer cartridges may not have much toner left in them today, but what little toner they do have can’t be reused in its current state. Alternatively, Canon has started recycling this waste product into a binding and coloring agent for pelletized asphalt.
About Canon Virginia Waste Toner Recycling Facility
Canon Environmental Technologies is canon’s largest toner cartridge recycling facility. It is operated by Canon Virginia Inc and located near Newport News in Gloucester County, Virginia, North America.
The facility was built on recycling used laser printers’ toner cartridges and other waste toners. It uses the most advanced technology available to separate the various recycled material components. This includes magnetic separation, which removes ferrous metals such as steel and aluminium.
Canon Virginia’s Recycled Toner Pellet Project
Recycled Toner Pellets are added to an asphalt mix on a feeder belt. (Credit: Canon Virginia Inc.)
Canon Inc.’s Recycled Toner Pellet project process involves leftover toner containers arriving at the facility and being classified by material type before getting deconstructed. After that, the facility melts the solid plastic waste parts and transforms them into pellets to create new cartridges from recycled plastic. Meanwhile, metal components are sent to business partners for recycling.
How are Recycled Toner Pellets Made?
Recycled Toner Pellets (RTPs) are created by pelletizing the salvaged toner to make it usable again. These RTPs are used as a binding and coloring agent in their asphalt by project partner Basic Construction Company. They are based in Virginia Beach.
Using the pellets in this manner makes sense. Why? Because toner primarily comprises carbon powder, silica, and finely crushed plastic. After years of safety and environmental testing, the Virginia Department of Transportation has finally approved using the pellets in Basic Construction’s asphalt roads.
Basic Construction will continue to test the RTPs over the next few months to ensure no adverse effects on the asphalt. Once these tests are complete, the company plans to use the pellets in road construction projects across the country.
How Discarded Plastic Becomes Roads Worldwide
This particular asphalt is being used in projects like local roads. Canon Virginia Inc initially approached the construction firm to test the RTPs. Now, the company purchases all of the pellets produced at the recycling facility. However, this is not the first time discarded toner has been recycled into an asphalt binder. TonerPave, an asphalt binder incorporating toner, was first experimentally used in Melbourne in 2013.
The University of Missouri and Dow are teaming up with the Missouri Department of Transportation to test a new road construction mixture using plastic waste. Plastic components like straws, drinking bottles, and grocery bags chemically similar to asphalt, can be used in place of traditional stone, gravel, and sand aggregate. To demonstrate this technology's effectiveness, engineers have already applied a two-mile stretch of their plastic-asphalt mix onto Stadium Boulevard in Columbia for cars averaging about 36,000 vehicles a day.
New York City
Polymer-based roads are becoming increasingly popular to mitigate the pollution released during extreme heat days. Staten Island, New York, a new effort is underway to push plastic-based roads into the mainstream. The Scottish company MacRebur has been testing a process of adding recycled bottle plastic to asphalt for three years. Each ton of asphalt contains around 80,000 plastic bottles worth of plastic which are comprised of both commercial and post-consumer waste plastics that have not been recycled. This fact is very important as it reduces waste in landfills and oceans instead of simply reusing existing plastics.
“In simple terms, asphalt is made of bitumen and stone, but with our technology, part of the bitumen can be extended with our mix – reducing the amount of fossil fuel used. We can do this because we are turning plastic into its original oil-based state and binding it to the stone with the help of our activator.”
India has made great strides in reducing plastic pollution and creating a more sustainable infrastructure. Over 60,000 miles of road have been paved using recycled plastic waste in India. In 2016 mixing recycled plastic into bitumen was made mandatory. This innovation has extreme significance in a nation where plastic waste is abundant and paved roads are few.
The Mexican state of Guanajuato has made history by constructing the world’s first eco-highway. The 4 kilometres stretch that links Irapuato and Cuerámaro was paved with 1.7 tons of recycled plastic! This effort speaks volumes about how Mexico is taking responsibility for its environment. Not only are they developing a greener infrastructure, but it also serves as an example worldwide for other countries to lower emissions from traditional construction materials.
What Is the Future of Used Toners?
While the future of discarded toner cartridges looks bright, it’s important to remember that even if you recycle your old printer cartridges, they still contain hazardous materials. For example, some toner products contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. In addition, some toners can be toxic or flammable. Therefore, it’s best to dispose of them properly so they don’t end up in landfills or pollute our environment. Don’t be one of those people in denial of responsibility, throwing their toner in the waste bin instead of a designated toner recycling method.
John Ravenporton is a writer for many popular online publications. John is now our chief editor at DailyTechFeed. John specializes in Crypto, Software, Computer and Tech related articles.