Realizing the negative impact of discarded ink and toner cartridges, environmental agencies across the country are stepping up their efforts to encourage proper recycling, like turning in the used cartridges to office supply stores.

Fort Lee has an ink and toner cartridge recycling program as well. The installation workforce is encouraged to follow the steps listed at the end of this article.

Toner and ink cartridges have an adverse impact on the environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Throughout their life cycle manufacturing, use-and-disposal printer products consume important resources, produce pollutants in some cases, and contribute to the levels of non-biodegradable materials in landfills.

Manufacturing a single toner cartridge emits approximately 4.8 kg of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The life cycle assessment of toner reveals that the GHG emissions are approximately 16 metric tons per one metric ton toner produced. On average, a cartridge with a yield of 5,000 pages contains 200 grams toner. This equals 3.2 kg carbon dioxide emission per cartridge.

Each ton of office paper, during its complete life cycle, emits the equivalent of 6.3 tons of greenhouse gases. An average employee prints six wasteful pages per day; that's 1,410 wasted pages per year.

More than 350 million cartridges are disposed of in landfills each year. By 2012, 500 million laser cartridges and 1.8 billion ink cartridges will be in landfills. Each cartridge becomes 3.5 pounds of solid waste sitting in a landfill and can take 450 to 1,000 years to decompose.

In 2004, the United States used 8 million tons of office paper; that's the equivalent of 178 million trees. Production of a ton of copy paper produces 2,278 pounds of solid waste, according to EPA.

Recycling at Fort Lee

Step 1. Locate Building P-7121A, the Office Supply Store on Warehouse Rd.. Take the ink/toner cartridge to this building.

Step 2. Enter the Office Supply Store and place the used cartridge on the designated shelf.

Step 3. From this shelf, the Office Supply Store manager appropriately recycles ink and toner cartridges.