Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

Recycled Ink Cartridges Help Feed Needy Families

Dec 01, 2014 10:27AM ● By Jill Cueni Cohen
Each year, more than 350 million discarded ink and toner cartridges end up in landfills. Chris Heibert, however, has found a better way to reuse these throwaways—in essence turning ink cartridges into food for needy families.

Cartridge for a Cause LLC recycles or reuses ink and toner cartridges and discarded cell phones, and a portion of their proceeds benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. In fact, since its inception just one year ago, Heibert’s company has been able to contribute the equivalent of nearly 10,000 meals to the food bank, while at the same time helping companies and individuals do their part in reducing landfill waste.

Cartridge for a Cause is really a win-win-win situation for Sally Andreaco, operations manager for The Wilson Group, located on the North Side. A copier sales company, The Wilson Group was a perfect client for Cartridge for a Cause. “When Chris approached me, I had already started an initiative about not throwing away Styrofoam and cardboard,” recalled Andreaco. “We recycle everything; even plastic pieces on the broken machines, but I had yet to find a cost-effective method of recycling ink and toner cartridges.” 

When Heibert showed up wanting nothing more than to take the used cartridges off of her hands, Andreaco had many bins all ready to give him. “I didn’t have to find someone to recycle them with, because he came to me,” she said.

Andreaco has also been able to pass the service on to her customers who collect their own used cartridges to be collected by Heibert—free of charge. “Our customers appreciate it, and it makes everyone feel really good about it, because who doesn’t want to help the food bank?” she said. “Chris provides the boxes, picks them up, and there’s absolutely no reason not to do it.”

“There’s been a trend toward the green movement throughout a lot of different industries,” explained Heibert, who’s currently working with approximately 125 businesses in Allegheny County. “There’s more of an awareness that we need to affect change in the environment, and we’re starting to make strides to make it better by slowing down the natural process of polluting the environment.”

In soliciting companies’ used cartridges, Heibert was surprised to find that a large percentage of them were just throwing the cartridges away. Surplus toner cartridges were another issue that he chose to address. “Lots of companies have closets full of these that they cannot use due to changing copier equipment. I bring them out a recycling bin—whatever size they need—at no charge, and regardless of what they’re doing now with their ink and toner cartridges and cell phones, they’ll immediately change their habits and throw them in the recycling bin instead. When the bins are full, I pick up the products and replace the bins,” he explained, adding that companies are also able to use the recycling effort to create an improved relationship with their customers.

“From the minute that we started the program, we put a green sticker on our customers’ invoices that advertised Cartridge for a Cause to show that we are a green initiative company, and that this is what we were doing,” said Andreaco. “People went crazy over it, because it’s such an easy way to give back. We have 300 customers, and they do all the work for us. We put the bins out; and someone from Cartridge for a Cause comes and picks them up.”  

If you are interested in donating your used ink and toner cartridges or old cell phones, contact Cartridge for a Cause at 412-260-3333 or visit