Updated: Recycled ink cartridges in your garden?

UPDATED TO FIX BAD LINK AND REPLACE PHOTOPrinter maker Lexmark is the first U.S.

UPDATED TO FIX BAD LINK AND REPLACE PHOTO

Printer maker Lexmark is the first U.S. printer maker to ink (at least publicly and, yes, pun intended) a deal with Close the Loop, a recycling concern that has come up with a patented new use for discarded printing and imaging supplies and other materials it is collecting: the company is turning it into a material called eLumber, that's already being used in Close the Loop's Australia homeland.

eLumber's uses are varied in Australia, where it has showed up in timbers for playground equipment, tiles for garden paths, fencing and mulch, and more.

elumber-construction.jpg

Lexmark routinely collects between 40 percent to 50 percent of the Lexmark cartridges that it sells annually, according to the company's press information. Usually recycled printer cartridges are used to create new cartridges or, in the case of Hewlett-Packard, they are becoming part of the printers themselves. The Close the Loop process opens the door to new uses.

In a series of answers to e-mailed questions, Close the Loop's vice president of North America, Jim Tocash, says eLumber is slated to become commercially available in the United States sometime next year. The material being collected from Lexmark will definitely go into the mix. eLumber already has been used in a Habit for Humanity home built in Lexington, Ky., where Lexmark is headquartered.

Lexmark's relationship with Close the Loop is outlined in this press release.

The Australian company doesn't typically disclose the names of its customers unless they choose to publicize the information. As far as U.S. high-tech clients go, however, aside from Lexmark, Close the Loop is scheduled to launch a cartridge recycling program on behalf of Toshiba America Business Solutions on Oct. 1.