Canon is now recycling discarded toner into an asphalt additive
Although discarded printer cartridges may be low on toner, they still do contain some toner which can't simply be reused in its present form. Instead, Canon has started recycling it into a pelletized asphalt colorant and binding agent.
Run by Canon Virginia Inc, Canon Environmental Technologies (located in Gloucester County, Virginia) is Canon's largest toner cartridge recycling center.
As part of the company's Recycled Toner Pellet project, cartridges received at the facility are initially sorted by material type, then automatically disassembled. The solid plastic components are subsequently melted down and converted into pellets, which are used in the production of new cartridges. Metal parts, on the other hand, are shipped to commercial partners for recycling.
The reclaimed toner is now also being pelletized for reuse, resulting in what are known as Recycled Toner Pellets (RTPs). These are currently being utilized by Virginia-based project partner Basic Construction Company, as both a colorant and a binding agent in the company's asphalt. This use of the pellets does make sense, given the fact that toner is composed mainly of finely ground plastic, carbon powder and silica.
Following several years of safety and environmental testing, the Virginia Department of Transportation has recently authorized use of the pellets in Basic Construction's asphalt, which is being used in projects such as local roadways. The construction company was originally approached by Canon Virginia to test the RTPs, and now buys 100% of the pellets made at the recycling center.
And no, this isn't the first time that discarded toner has been put to such use. Back in 2013, a toner-containing asphalt binder known as TonerPave was first experimentally utilized in the city of Melbourne, Australia.
Source: Canon Virgina Inc.