A company in New Zealand has come up with an innovative way of reusing old printer supplies by turning toner cartridges into paint.

Owner of Toner Recycling (TRC) Wayne Grieve explained that while reusing the metal and plastic from the consumables is straightforward, there was nothing practical that could be done with the waste toner itself, the Sunday Star-Times reports.

As his organisation collects 50,000 old products from recycling points around the country every month, he was often left with as much as 1,000 litres of the printing material.

Because TRC is a for-profit business, Mr Grieve explained he was keen to find a commercially-viable solution for this as well as reduce the amount sent to landfill.

By working with local firm Enviropaints, it was discovered that as printer toner is polymer-based, it is suitable for use in commercial outdoor paint.

General manager of Enviropaints Peter Reid stated: "This is an exciting innovation. It wasn't an easy process to perfect, so it was a matter of coming up with the secret formula using our innovative technology to achieve the right results."

While waste toner appears predominantly grey to the human eye, it is usually a mix of colours, which are extracted separately from the supplies TRC receives before being sent to Enviropaints to be manufactured into paint that can be used on building exteriors, fencing and covering up graffiti.

"We are able to use the various toner colours to their maximum advantage and have achieved our goal of creating a new-life paint through innovation," Mr Reid said.

Mr Grieve added it has been "fantastic" to work on the project with Enviropaints, which brings its technical expertise and ability to "think outside the square" to the problem.

Recycling toner cartridges may be a highly important part of ensuring printing operations are green, with HP recently explaining to PC Advisor it typically reuses 21,000 tonnes of consumables every year that would otherwise go to landfill.