How to Recycle or Donate Your Old Printer
Whether your printer is a lightweight budget inkjet or a bulky workhorse laser, a single-function printer or a versatile all-in-one (AIO), the time will come when you’ll need to find a responsible way to dispose of it. Maybe it broke down for good; maybe you’ve simply replaced it with a better model. Whatever the reason, getting rid of it responsibly means making sure it gets refurbished and put back into service, or that its materials get into the right recycling streams. Here’s how to make that happen.
(Important Note: As you read this, keep in mind that many recycle and refurbish programs have been curtailed and/or suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Where specific companies and organizations have announced changes to their normal operations, I have pointed them out below.)
Donating Your Used Printer
Whether your printer is still working or totally done for, plenty of organizations, including Goodwill and The Salvation Army, will accept and recycle your goods. Here are some examples of the many programs available. Some are regional.
World Computer Exchange. Among many other services designed to “reduce the digital divide for youth in developing countries,” the World Computer Exchange(Opens in a new window)(WCE) distributes used and refurbished computers and peripherals. With chapters of hundreds of volunteers in the USA, Australia, Canada, and Puerto Rico, the WCE has shipped equipment to computer labs serving just under 5 million youths in 51 developing countries. WCE has drop-off locations in several major US cities, territories, and regions, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, Silicon Valley, and Washington D.C./Baltimore, as well as Ottawa (Canada) and Monrovia (Liberia).
National Cristina Foundation. The National Cristina Foundation(Opens in a new window) does not physically receive, service, or place donated equipment. This online site helps facilitate the connection between a donor contributing equipment and a prescreened recipient organization (such as, say, Xerox, which is one of the foundation’s many members). When I did a search of a 50-mile radius in my neck of the woods in Southern California, the Cristina search engine returned 21 possible recipients for used printers in my area. One possible recipient, the White Oak Computer Lab at the White Oak Elementary School, was looking for 10 printers meeting the criteria shown in the image below…
The National Christina Foundation matches causes to availability.
e-Stewards. e-Stewards is a national foundation made up of certified electronics, recycling, and refurbishing companies around the globe. While e-Stewards is huge and has much influence in the recycle and refurbish industries, it also provides a web site(Opens in a new window) where you can search recycling, refurbishing, and consumer drop-off locations in your area.
e-Stewards makes finding a recycler in your area easy.
Dell Reconnect. In 2004, Goodwill(Opens in a new window)joined forces with Dell to recycle or refurbish most types of office and IT equipment, including printers. To participate, simply drop off your used printer at one of Goodwill’s more than 3,000 stores or drop-off locations.
eBay Giving Works. If you don’t mind doing a little footwork to get your no-longer-needed printer into needy hands, the auction giant eBay will help you sell it and then contribute 10 percent to 100 percent of the proceeds to an organization of your choice. For details, go to eBay’s eBay for Charity page(Opens in a new window).
If you search around the Internet, you’ll undoubtedly find other possible destinations. Used printers are much more valuable to worthy causes, of course, if they still work. If you have a working single-function or all-in-one machine that you just want to get rid of, a quick visit to PickupPlease.org(Opens in a new window), a site that takes donations for Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), should help. VVA is one of the primary groups working to make sure that Vietnam vets get support they need.
Recycling at a Big-Box Store
The most obvious way to get rid of a defunct printer, though, is to throw it in the trunk of your car and drive it to the local recycle center. This method, rather than throwing it in the trash (or even the recycle bin), usually ensures that it gets dismantled and all the various materials—plastics, metals (including difficult-to-deal-with ones, such as lead), circuit boards—inside and out get separated and recycled properly, or broken down and put back into service responsibly.
If the machine works, however, or if it’s too big and heavy for you to load and transport, there are plenty of other options. If all you want to do is get rid of it with as little fuss as possible, a quick web search will bring up local and national organizations that will pick it up for free or for a small fee. (In my small community, for example, an organization that specializes in resources for special-needs children comes around in a big truck in which it will haul off just about anything.)
In addition, several electronics and office-supply store chains offer recycle programs. Here are the two most popular ones.
Staples. For a while now, the Staples(Opens in a new window)office-supply chain has been recycling printers and other hardware—no matter where you bought the item—for free. You can drop off the machine at your local Staples store, or call to have it picked up. (In fact, the company’s electronics recycle site(Opens in a new window) lists as many as 36 broad categories ranging from coffee makers to gaming consoles to small web servers, plus printers, all-in-ones, and everything in between.) Not only will the company pick up your printer for you, but you can also call ahead to request a box and other packaging. Furthermore, Staples is an e-Stewards Enterprise(Opens in a new window), meaning that the company has committed to using e-Stewards-certified recyclers to handle the equipment it collects, thereby assuring that your old printer gets moved on to the next phase in its e-waste journey responsibly. (Important to note: Staples has suspended its recycle and buy-back program during the COVID-19 crisis.)
Best Buy. Like Staples, Best Buy(Opens in a new window) has been recycling e-waste, including printers, for years. However, this chain’s printer-recycle service is a little more attractive, in that if you bring in any printer, no matter who made it or where you bought it, the store will give you 15 percent off select new HP printers. This is a terrific deal if you’re in the market for another printer, and the “select” models meet your needs. A drawback versus the Staples program, though, is that in most cases, Best Buy charges a fee to haul away your unit. (Best Buy, too, has suspended its recycle and buy-back program during the COVID-19 crisis.)
Recycling and Buyback Alternatives
Most of the major printer manufacturers offer their customers recycle or buy-back programs. Each one is different, and depending on the product, they’re not always free. Here’s a breakdown.
Canon. Simply fill out an online form(Opens in a new window), and the company will offer an estimate of how much cash it is willing to give you for your printer. If it’s determined that it has no value, recycling options will be offered.
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Epson. This program is just for recycling, but it’s easy. Print a prepaid label, pack up your printer, and drop it off at a FedEx location. Epson(Opens in a new window) will take care of the recycling.
HP. The HP Consumer Buyback and Planet Partners Recycling Program(Opens in a new window) will buy—based on current value, of course—printers from any manufacturer originally sold by any vendor. For example, you can sell your used Brother, Canon, or Epson machine here, provided it has street value. If HP determines that your printer has no monetary value, the company will then provide you with recycling options. (Note that HP has announced that its recycle and buy-back programs are subject to suspension at any time during the COVID-19 crisis.)
OKI Data. OKI Data’s recycling programs vary by state. Click here for more(Opens in a new window).
Xerox. Xerox’s recycling options also vary by state, and the company allies with the National Cristina Foundation(Opens in a new window) mentioned earlier. Check them out here(Opens in a new window).
I won’t go into detail here, but remember that, other than the buyback programs noted above, you have plenty of options for selling your used printer if it’s still in decent condition. This is especially true of well-built, higher-end business-oriented printers and AIOs, as well as professional photo printers. Beyond the buyback programs mentioned here, the web is loaded with sites for selling your used tech, with the most common and recognizable being Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay.
But if your printer has hit the end of its life, or you’re looking to do something altruistic, donating or recycling are easy options. Legislation has been enacted in 25 states establishing electronic-waste recycling programs, and many printer manufacturers and sellers have gone to great lengths to be responsible about disposing of their customers’ second-hand wares. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to find a way to keep these machines and the material from which they’re constructed from doing more damage to the environment than necessary. Whether donating, recycling, or selling it for cash, there is no shortage of ways to keep your printer out of the dumpster. Do the right thing when the inevitable end of its service life comes.
Once your printer is recycled and you’re ready for a new one, you’ll want to check out our roundup of the best printers you can buy right now, as well as our deep dive into how to save money with low-cost printer ink programs.
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How to Dispose of Old Printers
- You could face legal repercussions for improperly disposing of printers and other forms of electronic waste.
- The three best options for getting rid of old printers are recycling programs, donations and online sales platforms.
- Donating printers to nonprofits may earn your business a tax deduction.
- This article is for business owners and office managers who need to dispose of old printers and related accessories.
When your small business office printer comes to the end of its life, where does it go? Are there recycling options? Do you toss it in the garbage?
Most people don’t think about what happens to their trusty printer once they’re ready for a new model. Still, as with any other type of electronic waste, your business must understand how to dispose of a printer properly.
Here’s a look at how to responsibly get rid of those old printers that are just sitting around, collecting dust and cluttering your office.
Why can’t you throw out old printers?
Getting rid of old printers is like disposing of other types of electronics – you can’t just throw them out. Printer ink cartridges may have toxic elements, and many states have enacted laws regarding the proper disposal of electronic waste (e-waste).
Businesses that illegally dump electronics can face huge fines. One notable example was in 2014, when AT&T was fined a whopping $52 million for mishandling e-waste and illegally sending hazardous materials to landfills.
Limiting e-waste is one way to make sustainability part of your business model. Other ways include addressing environmental problems and using responsibly sourced materials in your products.
How to dispose of old printers properly
To responsibly dispose of old printers, consider recycling, donating, selling and finding trade-in offers.
1. Recycle your old printers.
Recycling is a quick and relatively easy way to dispose of old printers. Here are a few recycling options.
- Big-box retailers: Retailers like Best Buy often put out in-store recycling bins so you can drop off your printers in the designated receptacles. Other stores with recycling programs include Target, Staples and Office Depot. Most towns have one of these major chains nearby, so recycling your unwanted electronics shouldn’t be a burdensome chore.
- E-waste collection centers: Another option is to go to an e-waste collection center. Depending on where you live, a center likely exists in your area. Check with city hall or your city or county website for e-waste drop-off locations and hours. Using a recycling center is a simple option that takes care of your problem in an environmentally friendly manner. You may also be able to recycle or dispose of old printer and toner cartridges.
- Sponsored local events: To make it even easier for consumers and business owners to get rid of old technology, some cities and counties hold daylong or weekend events to collect electronic waste. Drop off your printers at the designated location, and you’re good to go. Not every community offers an electronics recycling program or dedicated day, but if yours does, make note of it so you can dispose of your unwanted electronic equipment.
- Original manufacturers: You can also contact the printer’s manufacturer. Epson, Canon, HP, Sony, and Samsung all have e-waste recycling and take-back programs, but be sure to contact them first to see if they’ll accept your printers. The companies may accept only some devices as part of their take-back programs.
Consider migrating to a paperless office, which minimizes the use of physical paper in favor of digital documents
2. Donate your old printers.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Here are a few ideas for donating your old printers:
- Give to a charitable organization. While you can certainly recycle old printers, it’s never a bad idea to help out organizations in need. If the printers still work, many organizations – schools, recreation centers, community organizations, thrift shops, charities and nonprofits – will be happy to take them and put them to good use. Meanwhile, you’ll build a good brand reputation within the community.
- Find an electronics outreach program. You can also donate old printers to organizations specializing in electronics outreach for those in need. For instance, the World Computer Exchange provides electronics – such as computers and peripherals – to developing countries. A list of currently needed items is available on its website.
- See if your manufacturer has a repurposing program. Some manufacturers work with organizations to recycle and repurpose electronics, including printers. One such manufacturer is Dell. The Dell Reconnect program, in partnership with Goodwill, lets you drop off your printers at any Goodwill location, and they’ll take care of the rest.
- Let a nonprofit sell your old printers. Even if your printers don’t work, you can still donate them. Many charities and organizations can sell nonworking electronics for cash or trade them in for gift cards.
In addition to your printers, consider donating old computers, computer monitors, and other unwanted electronic items that might benefit organizations in need of some tech.
If you donate your old printers to qualified charities, you may receive reduced business tax liability due to charitable giving rules. Check with the IRS to be sure your donation qualifies.
3. Sell your old printers.
If they’re in good condition, there are several ways to turn those old printers into cash. Here are some places where you can sell used printers.
- Printers Jack: At Printers Jack, you can get a quote, ship the printer, and get paid by check or via PayPal.
- SellYourPrinters.com: The SellYourPrinters.com service is similar to Printers Jack, but it specializes in refurbishing laser and dot-matrix printers from IT departments.
- Online marketplaces: List your printer on sites like eBay, Amazon, Bonanza and Craigslist.
- Social media: Make a post or join buy-and-sell groups on Facebook to sell your printer locally. These groups can get crowded, but there are plenty of opportunities to sell used tech through social forums and groups.
- Junk shops and repair shops: Even if your old printers no longer work, you can still get some of your investment back by selling them to junk shops and repair shops. Depending on where you live, you may need to take some time to find these places and then call to see if they accept your type and brand of printer.
Selling printers can be a pain at times, but it’s a good way to offset the cost of purchasing a new printer. Printers tend to be expensive, and getting a few hundred dollars from selling a used printer can be a big deal to some small businesses.
If you sell your printer through an online forum, check the price of similar used printers to ensure you get the proper value out of your used printer and aren’t bilked by a potential buyer.
4. Trade in your old printer.
Big-box retailers of office and technology items, like Best Buy and Staples, often let businesses or individuals trade in printers if they plan to buy new or replacement models.
The trade-in value varies by company. For example, in 2022, Best Buy’s in-store-only offer lets customers save $30 to $50 on specific Epson printers and scanners when recycling an older Epson printer or scanner.
Staples, on the other hand, has yearly “save-and-trade” events for “up to an extra $100 when you trade in your old device.” Staples also has a sustainability pledge in which select other tech items are eligible for trade-in.
If you’re buying a new printer and considering a multifunction printer or copier, you’ll need to decide if you want it to print in color, if you prefer ink or toner, and if you want to buy or lease the device.
How to prepare a printer for removal
Each printer brand may have its own safety instructions for proper disposal (like HP does), but most follow the same general guidelines when preparing to remove and dispose of the printer.
- Remove ink cartridges. Take the ink cartridges out of the printer carefully (so you don’t break the ink cartridge docks). Depending on the type of ink cartridge, you can keep them for another printer, sell them, recycle them or dispose of them separately.
- Remove SD cards (or other removable memory). Removing any added memory is an important step, especially if you plan to dispose of the printer. Remove any storage that didn’t come with the printer to ensure your information stays safe and accessible.
- Restore factory defaults. A printer’s touchscreen usually has options for reverting to the factory defaults; look for a menu called Settings, Setup or Maintenance, or refer to the manual.
- Unplug and disconnect wires. Wires, like ink cartridges, can be kept for future use, sold or recycled. If you’re planning to sell the printer, keep any USB and power cords packed next to the printer so they aren’t lost.
- Remove the printer from your computer. Lastly, go into the Printers and Scanners section of your computer’s settings and remove the printer from your list. This way, printing won’t automatically default to a piece of hardware that you no longer have.
Various printer disposal options
Don’t just throw your old printers in the trash. There are recycling programs available to properly dispose of used printers and other forms of e-waste. If you decide not to recycle, consider donating to a local organization. You may even get a tax deduction if you donate the equipment to a charity. If you don’t want to go either of those routes, try selling the printer to offset the cost of its replacement.
Sean Peek and Sara Angeles contributed to the writing and research in this article.
disposal rules – PointMetal – recycling centers
What harm does discarded office equipment do
With the advent of the printer, our lives have become much easier. Today, no self-respecting office can do without a printing device, equipped with a scanner and a copier. The printer has also become popular for home use.
Due to frequent use, especially in office environments, the device fails and breaks down, like any other technique. Then the question rightly arises: what to do with an old unnecessary printer?
Variety of obsolete printers
Nature under threat of old technology
Many companies that have office equipment at their disposal, as well as ordinary citizens, take obsolete printers to the landfill, which is completely wrong. Once on the landfill, any equipment is a huge danger to the environment. The main materials that make up printers – plastic, metal and rubber do not decompose in natural conditions. They release toxic substances into the soil and groundwater that can poison plants, animals, and even humans.
Thus, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, zinc, nickel and other toxic elements enter the environment from a conventional printer that ends up in a landfill.
The only solution to getting rid of an old printer is to dispose of it and recycle it. Thanks to this process, hazardous substances do not harm the environment, and the resulting recycled raw materials can be reused for the production of new devices.
Retirement of old equipment
Disposal of obsolete printers and office equipment from legal entities begins with the write-off process. The main reasons for write-offs can be:
- Malfunction or breakdown.
- Purchase of new, more advanced devices.
Equipment write-off procedure
The write-off of old office equipment takes place in several stages:
- Drawing up an act, which indicates for what reasons this or that equipment cannot be used in the future.
- Prepare devices for shipping.
- Removal of old equipment from the company’s territory by a special recycling organization.
You can recycle not only the printer, but also any equipment in the office
How to dispose of the printer
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Printer disposal in shredder
The fastest and most convenient way to send an unwanted printer for recycling is to contact a special company that recycles household and office equipment. Its employees will come to your office or apartment and pick up the failed device, providing you with the necessary documents:
- act of work performed;
- act of acceptance and transfer of equipment;
- tax invoice.
Announcement about the export of equipment
Action in the hypermarket
Large chain stores of household appliances annually hold promotions, within which you can return the old device and buy a new one at a good discount. Such promotions are a good option to get rid of an unnecessary printer and purchase a new one.
Announcement of sale
If your printer is in working condition and you want to get rid of it because you bought a new model, it makes sense to advertise for sale. There will always be a modest office or student who needs a printing device.
How printers are taken apart
After the office equipment has arrived at the recycling company, a long process of recycling begins, the result of which will be new raw materials for production. It consists of the following steps:
- Disassembly for parts.
- Sort parts by material and color.
- Melting metal elements.
- Crushing plastic into crumbs.
- Obtaining new materials from recycled materials.
Processing line at the plant
In the future, new devices will be made from the raw materials obtained. Thus, thanks to recycling, the natural resources of our planet are saved, but the negative impact on the environment is also reduced.
Recycling printers free of charge in St.
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How to properly dispose of the printer
Printers have long and firmly entered our daily lives. Printing devices are now in every office, many people buy a printer for home use. Such a device greatly facilitates study or work at home. In order for the printer to print, a cartridge is installed in it – a replaceable container with special ink or powder. Used cartridges can be refilled, but sooner or later they expire and can no longer be used. The printers themselves, like any other technique, also break down or become obsolete. Therefore, the problem of recycling printers, cartridges and other consumables is relevant for any organization, as well as for ordinary users.
For disposal of and disposal of printers please contact:
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Why can’t you just throw the printer in the trash can?
Used cartridges and defective printers cannot simply be thrown into the landfill. Although they do not have danger signs, they are still harmful to the environment. The harmfulness of printers and cartridges as waste lies in the fact that they:
do not rot and do not decompose;
emit toxic substances during combustion;
can cause respiratory diseases.
Printers and cartridges are mostly made of plastic. This material is practically not subject to biological decomposition, which means that broken office equipment will remain unchanged in a landfill for several decades. But this is far from the worst. The main danger is that the polymer polystyrene is included in the composition of the plastic, which, when burned, releases a large amount of toxic substances. And in order to reduce the amount of waste, garbage in a landfill is usually set on fire, as a result of which the atmosphere is polluted, harming human health and the natural environment. There is always some ink mixture left in used cartridges. Its particles are microscopic in size and are volatile, and if they enter the respiratory system, they can cause serious diseases. Therefore, used cartridges should not only be thrown into a landfill, but also stored at home or in the office.
Proper disposal of printers and cartridges
The only correct and safe way to dispose of broken printers and used cartridges is to take them to a recycling company. Only in this case you can be sure that the elimination of office equipment and consumables will not harm the environment. Recycling printers and cartridges consists of several steps:
disassembly and sorting of used office equipment;
cleaning components from toner residues;
crushing and melting plastic using safe technologies;
recycling toner in high temperature environments;
transfer of boards with precious metals for further processing.