This Truck Spilled 40,000 Pounds of Printer Ink In a Crash That Probably Cost a Gazillion Dollars

That’s a lot of printer ink.
That’s a lot of printer ink.
Screenshot: WSB-TV (Mark Arum)

If you’ve ever griped about the cost of printer ink—and at this point, who hasn’t?—then prepare for some well-deserved schadenfreude. On Wednesday morning, a tractor-trailer spilled 40,000 pounds of printer ink onto an Atlanta highway in what is undoubtedly a really freaking expensive crash.


According to a local Atlanta news station, the accident occurred around 2 AM on Wednesday. Authorities said a car cut in front of the truck on the I-285 South, which then caused the truck to lose control. Cue 40,000 pounds of ink spilling out across multiple lanes and massive delays. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the situation has been handled with traffic reopened but a massive ink stain still remains across the interstate. No injuries were reported. It’s unclear who the spilled ink belongs to and Gizmodo has reached out to the Atlanta Police Department to ask which unlucky ink company is having a bad week. We’ll update this post when we receive a reply.

Time for some cocktail napkin math. Black printer ink is often cited as one of the most expensive liquids in the world. According to Consumer Reports, the cheapest cartridge replacement is about $13 per ounce, and the most expensive is about $95 per ounce. That means a gallon of this stuff costs somewhere between $1,664 and a whopping $12,160 per gallon. A Google search reveals the average cost of a gallon of printer ink is $2,700. And, 40,000 pounds of printer ink is about 4,793 gallons. Presto-math-o, and $12,941,100 is a reasonable guesstimate of how much this crash potentially cost. It’s even worse if you go by WSB-TV’s calculations, which put the 40,000 pounds of ink at 5,500 gallons or $14,850,000. Holy gadzooks. This is just a vague estimate but it’s probably safe to say this crash cost a gazillion dollars.

Our sister site Jalopnik listed the most expensive crashes of all time, and even if this truck dumped the cheapest possible printer ink, at $7.9 million, this would definitely rank near the top of the list. The aforementioned Consumer Reports story also notes that most of the printer ink you buy doesn’t actually end up on the pages you print. In fact, most of it ends up “cleaning print heads and other maintenance chores.” Now, think about the fact that crews cleaned up that precious precious ink with regular ol’ sand and dirt, and how that will make some fat cat printer ink executive feel sad. Let’s hope they didn’t have insurance.


Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.


Tommy P

I’m sure it only cost the company a gazillion dollars in profit — the actual ink itself was only worth about $100.