Pelletized ink toner on a conveyor belt
Basic Construction Co. auger machine moves Canon Virginia, Inc. Recycled Toner Pellets (RTP) to feeder belt and is dropped onto Basic’s Recycled Asphalt Pavement feeder belt.
Photo courtesy of Canon Virginia Inc.

Canon partnership finds end market for ink toner

The Virginia Department of Transportation has authorized the use of an asphalt amendment derived from recycled ink toner created by a partnership between Canon Virginia Inc. and Basic Construction Co.

September 1, 2022

Canon Virginia Inc. (CVI) and Basic Construction Co., both of Newport News, Virginia, have discovered a way to recycle waste ink toner as an additive for asphalt, which the Virginia Department of Transportation has recently approved for use on its roads.

The recycled toner pellet project was the result of an effort to find a use for waste printer toner by pelletizing the material and using it in asphalt for local roadways, the company says.

“We are driven by Canon’s commitment to our corporate philosophy—Kyosei—living and working together for the common good,” Canon Virginia Vice President Masato Mori says. “Our focus is on reducing environmental impact, and Basic Construction shares this commitment, which made this project successful for our community.”

CVI is the manufacturing center for the Tokyo-based camera manufacturer, Canon. In addition to cameras, Canon produces printers and runs a recycling program for ink toner and cartridges through its largest recycling center, Canon Environmental Technologies Inc. (CETI), based in Gloucester, Virginia, less than an hour from Newport News.

CETI’s mission is not only to increase Canon’s product recycling efforts but also to foster a recycling-oriented society, reduce Canon’s environmental impact through greater management efficiency and embrace green technologies.

The recycled toner pellet process begins when CETI receives returned toner cartridges from consumers. Cartridges are sorted by material type and are automatically disassembled or processed to recover base materials, including toner. The plastic is pelletized for use in Canon’s new ink cartridges and the metals are recycled by outside partners, but the toner is shipped to CVI.

“Sustainability is really part of CVI’s DNA,” CVI Vice President of Manufacturing and Engineering Thomas Keegan says. “After developing the recycling process for the majority of the plastic in the toner cartridges, our engineers and technicians were committed to finding a solution and creating a process for the wasted toner. Ten years ago, we didn’t have the environmental movement that we have now. Canon has been a leader in taking responsibility for the products that we produce, and we make sure that, from cradle to grave, they are dealt with in an environmentally responsible manner.”

CVI’s relationship with Basic Construction Co. began when they were asked to test the recycled toner pellets as a colorant and binding agent. Basic Construction is now purchasing 100 percent of the toner pellets produced at CVI and using them as an additive in their asphalt mixes.

“Canon is a dream collaborator and customer,” says Chad Pritchard, who oversees sales and quality assurance at Basic Construction. “I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from pavers and customers. It’s good to have good working relationships, and I am so pleased we got here.”

The project has won the Judging Committee Award for Sustainability from Canon Inc. (CINC), a highly competitive award worldwide. In addition, this the effort received Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Stewardship from Naturally Newport News, city of Newport News.