Does Walgreens Refill Ink Cartridges in 2024? The Full Guide

With over 8000 locations across the United States, Walgreens used to be a convenient option for refilling printer ink cartridges. But in 2022, Walgreens removed this service from all stores nationwide.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share insights into Walgreens’ past ink refilling services, explain why they discontinued it, and provide actionable alternatives to help you save money and reduce waste in 2024.

Environmental Impact of Printer Ink

Americans dispose of over 375 million inkjet cartridges each year, according to EPA estimates [1]. With only 20% being recycled, that leads to massive plastic waste and resource use.

Refilling cartridges just once can save over half a pound of metal and plastic per cartridge [2]. For the average household with 2 printers, choosing to refill instead of replace 16 cartridges per year would save:

  • 198 lbs of materials from ending up in landfills
  • The equivalent emissions of driving 230 miles in a typical passenger car [3]

With these environmental benefits, it’s worthwhile to seek cartridge refilling options even after Walgreens discontinued their services.

Walgreens’ Past Ink Cartridge Refilling Services

Walgreens began offering in-store cartridge refilling over a decade ago. At its peak prior to 2021, the service was available at around 6000 locations with photo printing departments.

What brands did Walgreens refill?

Walgreens was able to refill OEM cartridges for all major consumer printer brands, including:

  • HP
  • Canon
  • Epson
  • Lexmark
  • Brother
  • Samsung
  • Dell

What types of cartridges could be refilled?

Both inkjet and laser cartridges were eligible for the refill service. This included black ink, color ink, and toner cartridges.

How much did refills cost?

  • Black ink cartridges: $10
  • Color ink cartridges: $15
  • Laser/toner cartridges: $25

How long did the refill process take?

Walgreens quoted 1 hour or less for cartridge refilling services. You could drop off your cartridge and pick it up during the same store visit.

Why Walgreens Discontinued Cartridge Refilling

In 2021, Walgreens began removing their in-store ink and toner refilling services, completing the process nationwide by early 2022.

When reached for comment, a Walgreens spokesperson cited declining customer demand and operational challenges as primary factors in the decision to end the program [4].

Likely contributors include:

  • Lower cartridge prices – OEM cartridges dropped over 50% in price from 2011 to 2021 [5]
  • Labor costs – Maintaining specialized refilling machinery and trained staff had high overhead
  • Company focus – Walgreens aims to prioritize high-demand services like pharmacy and photo printing

For regular ink purchasers, the discontinued service represents lost savings. But there are still many options…

Where To Get Cartridges Refilled Now in 2024

Here are the top alternatives I recommend for convenient, affordable ink cartridge refilling:

Costco

Over 500 Costco locations with photo centers will refill eligible cartridges for $8-15, making it the most widely available option.

Pros

  • Very low price points
  • No membership required for refills
  • Quick turnaround time

Cons

  • Limited to basic inkjet cartridge models
  • Availability varies by location

Cartridge World

With 150+ stores across 25 states, Cartridge World specializes in quality refilling services for $11-20 per cartridge.

Pros

  • Refill any cartridge type
  • Professional cleaning and testing
  • 1 year guarantee on most refills

Cons

  • Limited geographic availability
  • Higher prices than other options

Local Print Shops

Many independent print shops offer ink and toner refilling for $10-30 per cartridge. Search Google Maps for options near you.

Pros

  • Support small business
  • Potential same-day service
  • May beat retail chain pricing

Cons

  • Availability varies
  • Service quality inconsistencies

DIY Refill Kits

You can purchase ink and resetting tools to refill cartridges yourself at home. Basic kits start around $20.

Pros

  • Very inexpensive over long term
  • Customizable ink colors/shades

Cons

  • Messy and complex for beginners
  • Trial and error to get right

Cost Comparison of Refilling vs. New Cartridges

Cartridge TypeAverage New PriceAverage Refill PriceSavings per Refill
Black ink$25$1060%
Color ink$40$1563%
Laser/toner$80$2569%

Conclusion

While Walgreens no longer refills ink and toner cartridges, environmentally and cost-conscious consumers still have solid alternatives in 2024. With some research into local options in your area, you can continue to save money and reduce plastic waste by refilling your printer cartridges.

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