Hazmart recycles toner cartridges, saves base money

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Hazmart Pharmacy is Spangdahlem Air Base's primary source of ink and toner cartridges, supporting 22 organizations on base and 17 geographically-separated units around Europe. It should come as no surprise the base uses a lot of toner; the hazmart pharmacy has been working to not only cut the cost of toner and ink, but also reduce the amount of waste the base produces by recycling empty printer cartridges.

"Assume there is at least one printer for every work section on base; that is a lot of ink," said Otmar Schadeck, 52nd LRS Hazmart Pharmacy supervisor. "In order to cut down on the costs to ensure everyone has printing capabilities, we started a contract with an organization off base to be our main source of cartridges."

The contract consolidated all the ink and toner supplies to the hazmart pharmacy, so whenever someone needs a new cartridge, they just show up and receive a new one.

"A customer can come in with their used cartridge and we'll replace it on the spot if it's a cartridge that we carry in stock," said Airman 1st Class Meagan Bock, 52nd LRS hazmat journeyman.

After the customer brings in the old toner cartridge, it is palletized and the contractor periodically picks up the cartridges for recycling.

"The unique thing about cartridge recycling is that they actually go through a refurbishing process," Schadeck said. "The contractor sends the cartridges to the manufacturer who then checks the cartridges for defects."

The manufacturer then refills the cartridge with toner, boxes it up and redistributes them to the contractor at a reduced cost.

"By using this method, the base saves approximately 30-40 percent off the cost by purchasing the refurbished cartridges," he added.

The base also saves money by recycling the cartridges instead of throwing them away. The cartridges must be labeled as hazardous waste since the toner contains heavy metals that must be properly disposed of.

"Every cartridge that we stock and carry here is 100 percent recycled," Schadeck said. "Not only are we saving the Air Force money, but we are reducing the amount of hazardous material that must be processed and dumped."