How to Safely Dispose of an Old Printer - All You Need to Know


Most homes and businesses have at least one printer. Whether it's used several times a day or once a month, these printers, like their computer counterparts, can age over time.

While their lifespan may vary depending on factors such as usage and maintenance, eventually you may find yourself needing to dispose of an old printer after purchasing a new one.

Don't toss it into the trash. There are a handful of different things that you can do to remove the product without harming the environment.

Understanding the Importance of Safe Disposal

A handful of toxic chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals, are present in printing ink and toner cartridges alone.

The plastic housing, printed circuits, and other components also pose a threat to the environment.

Because of this knowledge, most states have strict rules against dumping printers. It is generally not recommended to dispose of printers in regular trash due to environmental concerns and potential legal regulations.

In most cases, the materials within a standard printer can be reused in some way.

As the globe contends with climate change, the smallest changes in your business habits make a huge impact on the world at large.

Option 1: Break it Apart

Man breaking a printer apart

Your printer may be outdated and slow. It's not necessarily broken. Consider this printer as a valuable source of spare parts.

Many businesses use the same printer model throughout their offices, which means that one of them is probably still in use.

If a unit breaks down that you'd like to keep, you can swap the faulty parts with good ones from the 'trashed' printer.

Parts that can be reused include:

  • Toners
  • Drums
  • Paper supports
  • Output tray extensions

Most printers also contain printed circuit boards (PCBs) within their construction. If the printer continues to malfunction, consider swapping out the PCB, as it can often resolve the issue and allow you to salvage remaining components.

By gradually dismantling and reusing the parts from the old printer, you can effectively dispose of it piece by piece while minimizing waste and environmental impact.

However, it's important to exercise caution when disassembling the printer to avoid injury, and it's recommended to to consult any manufacturer instructions or guidelines for proper disassembly procedures.

Option 2: Recycle Old Printers

Stack of old printers

Recycling is the way to go when it comes to disposing of an old printer.

Your local recycling center will tell you what to do with your outdated computer peripherals, like printers and scanners. 

Some recycling centers may charge a fee to recycle your old computer equipment, but they'll reuse, recycle, and repurpose every part of your old electronic equipment. Most of the materials end up in new products that are used in a variety of industries.

Option 3: Donate Printer

Woman handing a donation box

Another option for your printer is giving it to a charity. Ask a local charity about their needs for computer peripherals. Some facilities are engaged in collecting, repairing and donating printers to nonprofits and other institutions.

In return, you get a tax write-off for your income taxes.When you donate your printer, it's being used without ending up in a landfill. Redistributing your printer can be rewarding as well as reduce your tax bill.

Option 4: Selling Old Printer

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection points out that any peripherals, including printers, cannot be thrown out with the standard trash.

Therefore, instead of piling the old printers in a storage room, consider selling them to someone who may have a use for them.

Before selling your old printer, it's important to take steps to protect your privacy. Make sure to securely erase any personal or sensitive data stored within the printer's memory or storage.

This will help safeguard your information and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Selling the old printer not only allows you to make some money but also helps someone in need. While the printer may no longer fit your needs, it could be a valuable resource for a student or someone with limited resources.

Clean up the old printer, ensure it is in working condition, and list it on an auction site or local marketplace. By doing so, you can contribute to the reuse and extended life of the printer while also benefiting others.

According to the European Printing Ink Association, improper printer disposal has a significant environmental impact. Therefore, if you run a business, it is crucial to ensure that everyone understands the protocols involved in asset management.

Recycling or reusing the item is the best way to remove it from service, allowing your new printers to get you up and running in no time!"

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