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Reuse of toner cartridges: Study proves concrete environmental benefit

Contribution to climate and resource protection +++ New study by the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT +++ With the return of 1.4 million toner cartridges, Interseroh saved approximately 6,300 tonnes greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, which corresponds to the annual emission of pollutants from 3,530 cars

Cologne. A new study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT on behalf of the environmental services provider Interseroh shows the specific contribution the professional processing and reuse of used toner cartridges makes to climate and resource protection. According to the study, the reuse of one single cartridge saves 4.49 kg of greenhouse gas emissions compared to new production. In addition, 9.39 kg of primary resources are spared per cartridge. By way of comparison, the material recycling of a defective cartridge saves 0.41 kg of greenhouse gas emissions and 1.94 kg of resources. The study therefore provides evidence of the environmental benefits of a consistent ReUse strategy, as demanded by policy-makers too: it is the federal government's intention that used toner cartridges be reprocessed and refilled more frequently in future; a corresponding ordinance on the treatment of waste electrical (and electronic) equipment is in the works.

Tom Reidick, Managing Director of INTERSEROH Product Cycle GmbH: "Thanks to the processing and recycling of toner cartridges collected by Interseroh alone, we were able to save as many climate-damaging greenhouse gases in 2017 as 3,530 cars in Germany emit in one year. The potential is huge."

"Our study once again shows the indispensable contribution that the closed-loop circulation of products makes to climate and resource protection," emphasises Dr. Markus Hiebel, Head of Sustainability and Resource Management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. "Multiple-use toner cartridges significantly reduce environmental impact and can still be recycled at the end of their product life cycle." The Fraunhofer experts recommend that professional processing and reuse should be preferred to material recycling wherever possible.

INTERSEROH Product Cycle GmbH has been providing various collection systems for empty printer cartridges and toner cartridges for many years. It was able to take back a total of around 1.4 million used cartridges in 2017 alone. Half of these were reprocessed; the other 50 percent mostly went into material recycling due to damage or lack of demand. According to calculations by Fraunhofer UMSICHT, this recycling practice saved around 6,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and 13,100 tonnes of primary resources.

About Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Fraunhofer UMSICHT is a pioneer of sustainable energy and raw material management, providing and transferring scientific findings to business, society and politics. Together with its partners, the UMSICHT team researches and develops sustainable products, processes and services which are very impressive. In this respect, it focuses on the balance between economically successful, socially just and environmentally friendly developments. In 2017, the institute and its 450 staff generated a turnover of more than 41.6 million euros. As one of 69 institutes and research facilities in the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe's leading applied research organisation, we are part of a global network and promote international collaboration.

More information on Fraunhofer UMSICHT can be found at

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About Interzero:

Interzero is one of the leading service providers in the field of closing product, material and logistics loops as well as innovation leader in plastics recycling with the largest sorting capacity in Europe. Under the guiding principle of “zero waste solutions”, the company supports over 50,000 customers throughout Europe on the responsible handling of recyclable materials, thus helping them to improve their own sustainability balance and conserve primary resources. With about 2,000 employees, the company achieves a turnover of over one billion euros (2021). According to Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Interzero’s recycling activities will save one million tonnes of greenhouse gases compared to primary production and more than 8.7 million tonnes of primary raw materials in 2022 alone. As a pioneer of the circular economy, Interzero is holder of the German Sustainability Award 2024. Further information can be found at


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