*NEWS*SCHOOLS TURNS EMPTY CTGS INTO CASH
*NEWS*SCHOOLS TURNS EMPTY CTGS INTO CASH
2005-10-04 at 10:52:00 am #13001
Schools transform empty ink cartridges into cash
Markofer Elementary in Elk Grove, empty printer ink and toner
cartridges were turned into international phone calls to military
Like thousands of schools
are doing nationwide as a fast and low-maintenance fundraiser, Markofer
parents collected the cartridges to send to a broker – who in turn paid
the school and then sold the cartridges to manufacturers for
Dawn Saborio, who ran the fundraiser for the PTA, said Markofer raised
$1,400 last year from sending hundreds of cartridges. The money was
used to buy calling cards for Markofer families with relatives serving
overseas in the military.
Each cartridge was logged in by hand by Saborio, who doesn’t own a
computer or printer. Besides advertising the project to the students’
parents, Saborio solicited her personal connections, including her own
School fundraising season is here. Students are barely through the
doors on the first day back before someone from the PTA is handing out
the details of this year’s offerings – entertainment and coupon books,
gift-wrapping paper, candy. It’s a $2 billion-a-year enterprise,
according to the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors &
Suppliers, and it’s been growing steadily over the years as a way to
help pay for classroom supplies and extracurricular activities.
To ease the pressure on children – and their parents’ checkbooks -
schools are finding they can make money from technological trash.
Thanks to a $30 billion third-party ink cartridge industry, the
everyday process of printers running out of ink can turn into another
stream of cash.
The empty printer cartridges are valuable to manufacturers because they can be refilled and sold at discounted prices.
Companies such as Colorado-based Cartridges for Kids serve as the
middleman, offering from 25 cents to $12 a cartridge, depending on
market value. The companies also have expanded into recycling cell
Last year, schools nationwide raised more than $1.7 million – about
$300,000 in California – by sending about 1.8 million cartridges and
cell phones to Cartridges for Kids.
Barbara Crawford, program director for Cartridges for Kids, said
schools are especially attractive to brokers because of the access to a
network of families and businesses, the potential to teach children
about recycling and the need for schools to supplement their budgets.
Greg Daley, who in 2004 ran for the Rocklin school board on a platform
that included recycling, started a program at Twin Oaks Elementary,
which his two daughters attend. He said the money was used for art
supplies and computer mouse pads.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “For an effortless amount of work, we generated $440 at that one elementary school.”
The growth in the remanufacturing industry has precipitated a growth in
schools’ awareness of the program. Susan Pack, an Elk Grove mother,
said that two years ago she hadn’t heard of any schools recycling
Now Pack works as a representative for Cartridge for Kids, keeping in
contact with about 100 schools in the Elk Grove, Woodland and
Pack also markets cookie selling to schools. Cookies are more lucrative
than cartridges, she said, but cartridges can be collected throughout
the year, and they don’t require cash-strapped families to shell out
“When I approach the schools, I guess I make them feel dumb if they don’t choose to do it,” she said.
In areas where families may not have computers and printers, school
officials say they look beyond campus boundaries. Kate Bishop, who is
the child welfare and attendance coordinator for the North Sacramento
School District, said she plans to target her business partners.
“A lot of my families don’t have the technology,” Bishop said.
She hopes to raise as much as $750 for her Developing Resiliency
Through Education, the Arts and Mentoring Project, a foundation that
funds activities and field trips for needy children.
“It won’t be a huge amount of money,” she said, “but it’ll be enough to send one class to an ocean.”