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Staples Ink Recycling Guide
Yesterday in my post “My Plans for Today Involve Home Depot & Staples – Here is Why“, I talked about a number of money saving strategies I was employing during visits to Home Depot & Staples. One of the things I mentioned was recycling my monthly 20 ink cartridges.
In the comments of yesterday’s post several people asked how I go through so much Ink. The truth is that I don’t, but it doesn’t stop me from maxing out my ink recycling limit every month. All three of the major office supply stores have ink recycling programs, but I only really use Staples.
Staples Ink Recycling Basics
In an effort to provide value to you, I thought I would go over the basics of Staples ink recycling. Here is what you need to know:
- You must purchase at least $30 in ink every 180 days.
- Normal Staples Rewards members are able to recycle 10 cartridges per month at $2 each.
- Plus & Premier members can recycle 20 cartridges per month.
Buy Ink Cartridges on eBay
You can buy used ink cartridges for about $.10 each on eBay. You may be able to do better than that, but I found several lots of ink at that price. So lets assume that is your cost.
Remember it is possible to earn 5x on all eBay purchases if you want plus 2% eBay Bucks.
A Good Strategy
Purchase $30 worth of ink from Staples every 6 months. Since there is tax and stuff, lets say you spend $35 every six months or $70 per year on ink.
Hopefully you actually need this ink, but you could always sell it on eBay. I’m going to assume you sell it on eBay for a 20% loss. So your loss is $14 on the ink every year. (This number is based on my experience.)
If you are a regular member you can recycle 120 cartridges per year (10 per month) and receive $240 in rewards. Your cost for this would be:
- Loss on ink purchases: $14
- Cost of recycled cartridges: $12
- Total cost: $26
So you paid a grand total of $26 for $240 in rewards. What a great deal! Of course spouses can both participate which doubles the rewards.
Plus or Premier Is Better
Plus & Premier members can earn $480 in rewards for the cost of $36. Wow! Of course you must spend at least $500 per year at Staples to reach the Plus level, but buying and reselling a few items may be worth it to get to that level.
How to Recycle
Recycling your ink cartridges is very easy. You can simply go into your local store and head straight to the cashier. They will ask for your rewards or phone number, take the cartridges and give you a receipt.
Staples has also recently added the ability to recycle online. To do this, login to your account and select that option. When redeeming online they cover the cost of shipping. You must ship a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 cartridges per box.
Staples Rewards Caution
- Staples Rewards used to be good for up to 6 months, but now they expire at the end of the month after they are issued. So lets say you recycle 10 cartridges in April. The rewards will be issued on May 15 and will expire on June 30.
- If you order online with Staples Rewards and try to return in store, it will be a mess since the store has no way to reissue the rewards. If ordering online make sure to return online.
- Keep up on your ink purchases. If you don’t have qualifying purchases of $30 in the past 180 days they will still take your ink, however you won’t earn any rewards. Thankfully the Staples site has recently been updated and it is easier than ever to see your purchases.
- If two people in the same household have Staples Rewards accounts, never co-mingle rewards on the same transaction. This has been known to cause Staples to merge the two accounts into one.
What to Buy
Think you already have every possible electronic device you could possibly want? Well Staples sells cleaning supplies, household products and so much more. I recently upgraded my entire home to LED lighting thanks to Staples Rewards and don’t get me started on how much toilet paper I have in my garage!
Yes Staples ink recycling is not as good as it seems on the surface, but it really can be lucrative if you go about it the right way. Do you play the ink recycling game? Do you recycle at the other office supply stores? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.