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Going Green

Higher Information Group strives to provide environmentally friendly solutions throughout all of its services, which is why we use Close the Loop.

Closing the Loop

Zero Waste

Close the Loop is driven by a philosophy of zero waste. CtL has pursued the ‘zero waste’ philosophy since inception. On the basis of their proven expertise, you can be assured that 100% of every inkjet cartridge, toner cartridge, or toner bottle sent to their facility will be reused or recycled. They continue to lead the electronics recycling industry away from the waste industry mentality of single use and the need to mine even more resources. They focus their energy on identifying and proving potential applications for even the most difficult of materials, by designing a materials hierarchy that incorporates closed material loops, and by helping manufacturers design for the environment. Each day across their two facilities (Australia and USA) they keep over 48.6 tons of material out of landfills. They recover irreplaceable resources that are used to make a new generation of products while achieving tons of carbon savings every day.

Materials Hierarchy and Closed Materials Loops

The typical waste hierarchy refers to the 3 R’s; reduce, reuse, and recycle. However, the reality is that most people are reluctant to reduce their use of things. Reuse is still relatively uncommon. Recycling rates have improved over time and in the developed world between 40% and 75 % of waste is now recycled. That still leaves considerable quantities to be disposed of in landfills.

Design

In designing their ink cartridge recycling and toner cartridge recycling programs, Close the Loop took a quantum leap and completely re-engineered the waste hierarchy to suit their class leading business practices and values. Close the Loop is NOT a waste management business. They are a zero waste materials recovery business and as such traditional waste hierarchies are not suitable tools to measure their performance. For example, disposal or landfill is not an option for them. They view waste as a resource and therefore have a “materials recovery hierarchy”.

Reuse

Reuse sees entire items or their component parts reused with minimal processing. For example; to remanufacture a toner cartridge requires little in the way of additional energy and materials to produce, and for some manufacturers is the most desirable way of managing their old cartridges. Unfortunately, most ink and toner cartridges are not designed with reuse in mind, so CtL is working with manufacturers to help them design products that can easily be reused.

Closed Material Loops

Closed material loops are where a raw material used to produce a product is collected at end of life and recovered for reuse in the next generation of the same product. In other words, printer cartridges are recycled into new printer cartridges. This is another area where Close the Loop helps manufacturers design products that allow materials to be more easily recovered so we can recycle printer cartridges back into the same type of product.

Engineering Products

Engineered products are higher-value products made from recycled materials. Their pens, rulers and flexographic ink are good examples. Recycling ink cartridges into different products doesn’t create a closed loop on its own. However, their pens and rulers are fully recyclable through their collection system, creating a new closed loop of their own.

Commodity Loops

Commodity loops aren’t closed at a product level but at a commodity level. They see valuable materials recovered and used again and again for a variety of uses. Metal and glass recycling are major types of commodity loops.

Waste

Waste to energy applies to the smallest fraction arising from our materials recovery process. There are just some contaminated parts of a product that cannot be reclaimed, these are the fractions that are sent to W2E. Although some materials are lost from future use, they manage to recover some of the energy that went into their production. W2E is a last resort solution for Close the Loop to ensure their brand promise of Zero Waste to Landfill is upheld. Their company-wide KPI is <10% to W2E annually. Their focus is on ensuring that they can use more materials in the higher levels of the hierarchy.

How We Recycle

Close the Loop is at the forefront of developing processing technologies for recycling printer cartridges and similar plastic or electronic products. They have invented numerous proprietary technologies to safely shred and recycle ink cartridges, toner cartridges, toner bottles and other print consumables. They process thousands of pounds of empty ink and toner cartridges and toner bottles every day. They never stop learning and continue to develop and invest in newer, safer, and more efficient machines and processes.

Our process generates four major output streams.

Toner

Toner is a very fine, electrically charged plastic (powder) used in photocopy machines and laser printers. It is a contaminant to the rigid plastic fraction of old toner cartridges and bottles and must be removed or separated from everything else. CtL has completed the research and is now entering the development phase of a new commercial application of post-consumer recycled toner powder, as an additive to asphalt roads and other bituminous products. 

Metals

Steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and precious metals are separated by magnets and eddy current separator technologies. There is a ready market for scrap metals, and they become part of their respective commodity loops.

Plastics

Close the Loop recovers a large variety of plastics from its production lines including polyolefins (LDPE, HDPE, styrenicsPP) and engineers styrenes (ABS, PS). The plastics that they recover in large volumes of clean material are either sold into ‘closed material loops’ for reuse in new cartridges, or diverted into open loops for Close the Loop products and commodities. Some of the plastic recovered from inkjet cartridges are recycled into their Enviroliner pens and plastic from toner cartridges is used to make their rulers.

Ink

Close the Loop has pioneered the reuse of mixed inks from scrap inkjet cartridges. After years of R&D, they have developed the technology and the skills needed to refine these raw materials for use in Enviroliner pens and flexographic ink. CtL, in partnership with BCM Inks of Cincinnati OH, has produced and commercialized a flexographic ink called PCR Black. This product was announced a winner of the prestigious DuPont Packaging Awards for 2013.

Recycling achieves more than just material recovery. Learn about how recycling also saves energy and helps to reduce carbon emissions.