Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Earn Virgin Points or credit by recycling ink cartridges with Tesco

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

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) 250 Virgin Points or £2.50 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 to do with your Clubcard points.

A standard HP301 black cartridge is worth 125 Clubcard points. This is 250 Virgin Points or £2.50 of credit. Given that an HP301 Black is around £17 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 (April 2024)

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 bonus points 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 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (9)

  • Alex says:

    Done this twice and never got a single point

    • Graham D says:

      Agree. Recycling these in-store is a complete and utter waste of time. Points never post so clearly a number of cartridges go ‘missing’ and end up somewhere else. When it was done by post, you could at least get proof of postage.

      If memory serves me right, the last 3 or 4 cartridges I dropped off never posted any points, so would absolutely avoid this.

    • Tubbs says:

      I wondered if it was just my local store but it seems not. The last 3 or 4 cartridges I have dropped in the recycling box have not resulted in any Clubcard points.

  • Ian says:

    This is exactly my experience too with Tesco. Points never posted either for recycled ink cartridges or for doing their surveys. Once I phoned Clubcard and managed to screw a few points out of them but it’s hardly worth the effort.

    It might be interesting to have an update in a month or two, to see if there has been any improvement.

  • The Original Nick. says:

    Interesting reading through those old comments as I was only thinking about those good old days not long ago. @ Rob, squillion was Harry wasn’t he?

  • Tariq says:

    Not used an inkjet printer in years. If only there was a way to extract some value from empty toner cartridges still.

  • Jonathan says:

    Were we not told a few times before in the past (here on HfP) that redeeming Clubcard points for vouchers is not a good trade off for a couple of good reasons ?

    • Tracey says:

      I don’t think you get the ‘night’ value that you would usually get for booking direct with hotels dot com. So you effectively lose 10%. You also still need to pay the taxes.

      All my Clubcard points now go to pizza express, especially as it’s now easy to redeem when you are in the restaurant eating your pizza, so don’t risk unused vouchers.

  • Jack says:

    Back in the good old bonus days you could get the cartridges from tesco for the bonus points, and if you lived in Ireland return them to store for a refund as per T&Cs. However when you did the Irish system never removed the points, and the cartridges were more expensive here too so i actually got more back than i paid, because they just scanned them and used that price to refund

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment

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.