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Earn Virgin Points or credit by recycling ink cartridges with Tesco

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Tesco and The Recycling Factory have an interesting scheme to bribe you with Clubcard points to recycle old printer ink cartridges.

You receive up to 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.

Remember that 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 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
  • 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 125 Clubcard points. This is 312 Virgin Points or £3.75 of credit. Given that an HP301 Black is around £13 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.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (March 2023)

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 Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

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

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 Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four 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.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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.

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) 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 (28)

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

  • N says:

    Am I right in reading that there’s no scope for toner recyling?

  • Liam J says:

    Honestly anyone with an inkjet printer they’re only using for documents should throw it away and buy a laser printer. They’re slightly more expensive to buy (but a black and white one can still be had for not much) but the toner will last for years without drying up. Assuming you get one with a large toner it will last for thousands of pages too.

    • John says:

      Why should I throw away something that works? I haven’t bought any new ink since 2011, when I bought 100 cartridges for £200 from some dodgy-looking website, but they arrived and they don’t dry up. Still have about 20 left.

      • Liam J says:

        Fair enough – happy to stand corrected. In your specific use case of having many spare 10+ year old cartridges laying around not dried up, I accept it’s not the best idea. Let me rephrase – almost all people regularly buying inkjet cartridges and only printing in A4 black and white would be better off with a laser printer.

    • TimM says:

      I have a Brother A3 (colour) printer & scanner intended for office work so built like a tank and uses inkjet cartridges which are huge, widely available, cheap and last a very long time. Short of its death, I can envisage no circumstances when it would be remotely better to switch to a monochrome ‘laser’ printer!

      I am also of the era when an A3 scanner cost about the same as a new car. I won’t be giving it up easily while it works perfectly

  • Querty1234 says:

    Only the larger stores seem to have the recycling units and was fairly inconspicuous, at least in Northallerton.

  • Ste says:

    I dropped off over 10 HP cartridges at Tesco Extra Neasden in December 2022 and nothing has posted. I will be keen to see if anyone has had anything in the last year.

  • Lady London says:

    1 full envelope with * less * than the % of full, new, unused cartridges in it credited by the Tesco recycling scheme, and at least 1 other envelope sent completely lost and never credited… I wouldn’t touch the Tesco recycling scheme again with a bargepole.

  • captaindave says:

    For folks who have posted inks and not had any points back, its worth calling the clubcard helpdesk and having a whinge 0800 591688

  • Gordon says:

    @Rob, Re your plugging of Viking as a source to purchase ink cartridges. They only sell original inks, I regularly purchase compatible units from the likes of cartridge world etc that do not void a warranty, I acquired a yellow 3k page yield cartridge for £35 plus vat last week and the original unit on Viking was £124 plus vat. I have never had an issue with any remanufactured units over many years. I am happy to forgo the nectar points. I am aware I am comparing an original unit to a remanufactured unit but personally I have never noticed any difference in quality or performance.

  • Mr Jones says:

    I have sent ink off to Tesco on several occasions since the scheme changed and had no points posted.

    Dropping the ink into a cardboard “open” box that anyone can later steal is not the best method.

    Would be keen to know if it works for some people, if yes I will try different stores

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

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