Have you ever wondered what happens to your printer cartridges after you’ve dropped them off to be recycled? Well, an Australian company has come up with a brilliant use for old toner cartridges, and it’s paving the way to a new world.
TonerPave has been created by Close the Loop, Australia’s leading printer cartridge recycler, and Downer, who provide engineering and infrastructure management services. This awesome technology uses toner powder left over from the recycling process to create road surfacing material. This recycled material makes road surfaces stronger and reduces the carbon emissions needed to manufacture traditional tarmac.
How is it made?
All the toner cartridges used to make the TonerPave system are collected by Close the Loop’s Planet Ark recycling programme.
Old toner cartridges are shredded to separate the raw materials for reuse. The left over toner powder is then refined to make an additive called Modified Toner Polymer (MTP). Because most toner powder is made from high grade engineering plastics, it makes for a perfect addition to the asphalt used for roads.
MTP could also be used to make other products, like pens, rulers and plastic wood products like planter boxes, decking, signs and fencing.
Why is it important?
Every year, millions of ink cartridges and toner cartridges end up in landfills all across the world and because they’re made of such high grade plastic, it can take up to a thousand years for them to break down. The ink or toner powder inside printer cartridges could also contaminate groundwater supplies.
Toner cartridges also contain various valuable materials, like stainless steel, aluminium and ferrous metals (for a more detailed look at what’s inside a printer cartridge, see our infographic Why Should I Recycle My Printer Cartridges).
Using MTP as an asphalt additive, instead of the bitumen which is traditionally used, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 14 kilograms for every ton of asphalt produced. MTP can also prolong the life of the road, leading to lower maintenance costs.