Becky Baines called her young business The Ink Bin

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Did you know that 80 percent of ink cartridges end up in the trash? That equates to over 45 million annually in the UK alone. Mr Bob Russell meets Becky Baines, who founded The Ink Bin in April 2019. Determined to do their part and find a sustainable solution, Becky’s start-up is recycling cartridges and there are now waste bins across the UK, including many here in North Essex

Approximately one million home printer ink cartridges are purchased in the UK each week.

It’s a number that has increased over the past year as more people work from home and are homeschooled due to Covid-19 regulations.

An estimated 80 percent of them are thrown into the waste system and dumped in landfills, where they take hundreds of years to decompose.

However, an enterprising young mother in North Essex has built her own small business to recycle tens of thousands of empty cartridges and it has proven very successful.

Most can be refilled by a specialist company they ship them to, and then sold as remanufactured ink cartridges.

Becky Baines became aware of the huge problem of throwing away ink cartridges when they were empty two years ago and started her own pioneering business alongside her work as a special education teacher.

She named her young business The Ink Bin.

The success has been so great since April 2019 that she will now fully concentrate on collecting ink cartridges for home use by asking schools and supermarkets to provide one of their cartridge collection boxes for students and customers to dispose of their cartridges.

Not just for environmental reasons, what their original intentions were and are, but also because it’s a fundraiser for a local school or charity.

Becky lives in Chappel and has a unit in a converted farmhouse in nearby Bures.

Boxes of used cartridges are couriered to her home from Devon, Dumfries in Scotland and Abergavenny in Wales.

In Leicester, she has established connections with more than 40 schools in the city.

Collection boxes are available near home in Sainsbury’s Supermarket in Stanway and in co-op stores in West Mersea, Wivenhoe and Earls Colne.

The proceeds from the co-op shops go to the West Mersea Lions Club, Tendring Primary School and the Earls Colne Scouts, respectively.

Hard at work – Becky Baines at her workbench sorting another batch of empty ink cartridges

Ink tanks are available at Emmaus Colchester’s charity shops on the High Street.

About a dozen schools in the Colchester area also have collection boxes, and Becky hopes other schools will want to take part too.

The sale of the cartridges benefits the school fees.

The news of The Ink Bin has gotten widespread in environmental recycling circles and across the UK more than 200 schools have their distinctive cardboard boxes for people to put their empty ink cartridges – each with the school logo or other distinctive poster that Becky designs. together with the The Ink Bin logo with the words “Keep the world colorful”.

Your artistic talent comes as no surprise.

She graduated from the University of Essex where she studied Latin American contemporary art.

She then taught at Earls Colne Primary School before the birth of her two sons, both of whom attend local elementary schools.

Today she works as a special education teacher every morning and uses the afternoons, evenings and weekends to develop her business from a one-woman operation to the point where she has the momentum to work full-time – and with the hiring of at . to grow at least one person by summer as the next step.

The ink tank does not collect the larger cartridges used by retailers and others.

This is another market for which the user should return cartridges to the manufacturer.

Spread the word - Becky Baines with members of the Eco Club at St. John's Church of England Primary School in Colchester

Spread the word – Becky Baines with members of the Eco Club at St. John’s Church of England Primary School in Colchester

The ink tank only deals with ink cartridges that are used in home printers.

Not all cartridges can be recycled.

The unsuitable ones are sorted into a separate container for possible crushing into pellets for sale to companies that recycle plastic material.

Becky said, “Ink cartridges can be compared to a refillable water bottle.

“They are extremely easy to refill and bring back onto the market as remanufactured ink cartridges.

“Some can be refilled up to six times.

“It’s important that we reuse the plastics and metals in the cartridges instead of throwing the material away.

“I would like to point out that the earth’s natural resources are becoming scarce and must return to a so-called circular economy.

“I have a feeling that there is not enough public awareness that ink cartridges can be recycled.”

Drop Off Point - The Ink Bin Box for recycling ink cartridges in support of the Mersea Island Lions Club at the West Mersea Co-op

Drop Off Point – The Ink Bin Box for recycling ink cartridges in support of the Mersea Island Lions Club at the West Mersea Co-op

Sorting the different types of home ink cartridges is a labor-intensive activity.

Becky then couriered them to a specialist shop to replenish them before they were sold to stores.

Becky said she started The Ink Bin because she was “frustrated with the cuts in schools and media coverage of our climate emergency.”

The Ink Bin started out as an eco-fundraising company for schools and charities.

With a 20-year teaching career, Becky has made use of all this experience, because The Ink Bin not only recycles ink cartridges but also operates “Eco-Kids”, a forum for busy school teachers who want to establish eco-clubs in the school.

“We produce weekly newsletters that are emailed to our schools, but are also available online for free for everyone,” said Becky.

The Ink Bin and Eco-Kids sponsor the Eco Colchester Festival.

Please contact us for more details on The Ink Bin HERE or by email at [email protected]

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