Engineering and mining contractor Murray & Roberts is leading the charge as a responsible recycler, in response to a call made by Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa (KDZA) and Carbon Footprint Recycling, to reduce e-waste by recycling empty toner cartridges and waste toner bottles.

The project encourages companies to send a participation request to Kyocera and agree to an administration fee. In return, they receive a recycling bin and a plastic liner to collect all makes of used printer cartridges. Once the bin is full, the organisation requests collection and the liner is swapped for a new one.

In turn, Carbon Footprint Recycling turns the cartridges into concrete-based planter boxes and other items, that can be used by the participating organisations, or donated to community projects. Importantly, the toners and plastic toner cartridges are safely diverted from landfill. 

To date, Carbon Footprint Recycling has collected 3647 Kyocera cartridges, amounting to 13 585kg of recycled material that has been turned into planters, benches and pavers.

Fergus Slattery, director at Carbon Footprint Recycling, recites a quote from Robert Swan that says, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

“We can’t think that when we throw things away, they are gone. They have to go somewhere, and I wanted to find a sustainable way of creating reuse of printer cartridges, because putting them into the dustbin is not an option. When we proposed a recycling concept to Kyocera, an exciting partnership was born,” said Slattery.

As the first company to sign up, Murray & Roberts has collected and recycled 148kg in cartridges and recently donated 16 planters to Ithembelihle School in Germiston, Gauteng as part of the school’s vegetable growing project.

“The planter boxes will be used to grow seedlings that will later be transplanted to raised tyre gardens for further growth,” said Leonor Ngozi, Principal at Ithembelihle.

“Most of the day scholars arrive at school without having had breakfast. Healthy meals are important for building and boosting the learners’ immune systems, particularly those who are on chronic medication.”

“We are so excited about this project and wish more companies would be involved, so that we can expand our garden to be able to send vegetables home with learners, as well.”

For Murray & Roberts, the project plays into our ongoing corporate social investment and drive to closely monitor our carbon footprint, says Hilton Currie, Chief Information Officer, Murray & Roberts. 

Prior to its participation in this project, Murray & Roberts would have to store used cartridges, which would take up a lot of space, before cartridge disposal was arranged, which in itself was a costly procedure. By recycling its printer cartridges, the company saves time, money and storage space, while also giving something back to the community.

“Consumption of toner is ongoing, and the volume of waste is increasing,” says Paul Wendlandt, Customer Services Support Manager, Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa.

“How we treat toner waste today is important, both for corporate citizenship and the environment. We need to start changing our habits and finding useful things to do with this waste. That’s why we are encouraging businesses to participate in our recycle, reduce and reuse programme.”