Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Earn Virgin Points by recycling ink cartridges with Tesco

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

After a pause, Tesco and The Recycling Factory have relaunched their scheme to encourage you to recycle old printer ink cartridges.

You receive up 125 Tesco Clubcard points per cartridge you recycle. This means up to (125 x 2.5) 312 Virgin Points or £3.75 of credit, depending on how you spend the points. British Airways / Avios is no longer a Tesco Clubcard partner.

A trip down memory lane ….

Back in the olden days, ink cartridge recycling was an easy way to earn cheap Avios. The Recycling Factory accepted a very wide range of cartridges, and there were numerous companies selling empty cartridges in bulk on eBay.

You could order 100 cartridges for £50 or so, relabel the parcel when it arrived and assume that 90ish would be accepted for recycling, triggering up to 20,000 Avios.

Tesco also used to do exceptionally good bonus point deals on new ink cartridges. You could get cheap Avios by buying the cartridges purely for the bonus points – this 2013 deal, for example, got you Avios for 0.82p each and you still had the cartridges. These could be sold on eBay or sent off to The Recycling Factory who – despite being brand new and full – were happy to pay you even more points.

How does cartridge recycling work now?

The way the promotion works has just changed. You no longer post cartridges to The Recycling Factory.

This is how it works:

  • Check that your empty ink cartridges are on their list of acceptable ones – there is a calculator on their website here
  • Pick up a recycling envelope in-store (envelopes are also included automatically when you buy Tesco own-brand cartridges)
  • Insert the cartridge and fill out your details, choosing either up to 125 Clubcard points per cartridge or a charity donation
  • Drop the envelope into the recycling unit in your local large Tesco store

There is a limit of 100 cartridges per Clubcard account per calendar year.

The Recycling Factory will decide whether or not your cartridge is in a suitable condition for recycling, and you need to agree that it can throw away your cartridge if it does not pass its tests. It is worth saying that the company has been running this scheme for a decade with Tesco and has a reputation for playing fair.


This is not a bad deal, allowing you to be environmentally conscious whilst also picking up some Virgin Points, credit or whatever else you choose.

It is a decent return. A standard HP301 black cartridge, for example, is worth 100 Clubcard points. This is 250 Virgin Points or £3 of credit. Given that an HP301 Black is around £16 new on Amazon, it is a decent return.

PS. If you need to buy ink cartridges on a regular basis, remember that Viking is a Nectar partner and you can convert those points to Avios. Details of the Viking / Nectar partnership are here. You will currently receive 1,000 bonus Nectar points (625 Avios) on your first £30+ order.

PPS. If you are really bored at home today, clicking here will do an automatic eBay search for bulk sellers of empty ink cartridges. You might want to do the maths on whether buying in bulk for future recycling still makes sense. Remember that you earn 7x the usual Nectar points on eBay purchases made by 14th February.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (32)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Tom says:

    So can I recycle my HP instant ink cartridges via this instead of sending back to HP?

  • Jonathan says:

    It’s funny how the first thing I thought was one used cartridge = almost a greggs sausage roll. My priorities have changed, either that or I’m hungry 🤔

  • LewisB says:

    I wonder if that calendar year gets reset in April? 😁

  • Chaz says:

    Is it worth adding that it is only Canon or HP cartridges? No other printer manufacturers are accepted.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Or that a high percentage of only used once cartridges get rejected and they keep them as no returns.
      Better off selling them on ebay

  • Mike says:

    “Back in the olden days, ink cartridge recycling was an easy way to earn cheap Avios.” – oh those were the days – my fingers were constantly inky. Although now I have swopped all my shopping to Sainsburys – this will be useful reminder of how to get some Virgin miles via TESCO

  • Paul says:

    Shame you have to go into store in the current climate.

    Would these be near the ink aisle?

    • Rob(staaaar) says:

      Normally sited along the wall/window on the way out; probably next to battery recycling and food donation bins

  • BS says:

    I sent so many cartridges in (about 1000) that Tesco wrote to me saying I could not convert my clubcard balance to a clubcard reward voucher – only at face value in Tesco. I complained, and in the end accepted £cash at the face value rather than having to spend it in Tesco.
    Was going to buy a car from motorpoint (or whichever one accepted the reward vouchers…)

  • John Caribbean says:

    I was looking at some there on eBay, 27 canon at 99p. While I was adding up the value some of you lot bid them up to £72!

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Lol, always happens. A lot of businesses buy them to refill & sell on.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.