How to Dispose of Old Printer [8 Top Choices]

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As technology swiftly progresses, our homes and workplaces frequently see the natural transition away from older electronic gadgets, like printers. 

While parting with an old printer may appear simple, it demands thoughtful consideration to reduce its environmental footprint. 

In this guide, we will explore the types of printers, highlight hazardous materials that affect the environment, provide instructions for preparing a printer for removal, and delve into various eco-friendly ways to dispose of old printers. 

But before we dive into these disposal methods, let’s first grasp the diverse types of printers in the market. Let’s get started!

Types of Printer

old printers
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Printers come in various types, including inkjet, laser, dot matrix, and 3D printers. 

Each type possesses its distinct features and materials that play a role in how they should be disposed of. 

For instance, inkjet printers use liquid ink, laser printers rely on toner powder, dot matrix printers use ink ribbons, and 3D printers utilize different filaments or resins. 

The disposal process is influenced by these unique components, and recognizing the type of printer you own is pivotal. 

It’s not just about the technology; it’s about being aware of the specific materials used. 

This awareness is crucial because different printers may contain hazardous substances like lead or mercury. To dispose of your printer responsibly, understanding its type is the first and essential step. 

It allows you to make informed decisions tailored to the environmental considerations associated with that particular printer, ensuring a conscientious and eco-friendly disposal process.

Hazardous Materials That Impacts The Environment

Discovering the potential environmental hazards within old printers unveils a responsibility to handle and dispose of them with utmost care. 

These devices harbor materials that, if not managed responsibly, can unleash havoc on our surroundings, affecting both ecosystems and human well-being.

1. Toner Cartridges

At the core of laser printers, toner cartridges contain intricate mixtures of pigments, resins, and polymers in the form of fine powder. 

While engineered to stick to paper during printing, mishandling or malfunctions can release airborne particles. 

Inhalation of toner powder poses risks, particularly for those with respiratory conditions like asthma, leading to lung and respiratory irritations.

2. Lead

In certain older printer models, lead, a heavy metal once prevalent in electronics manufacturing, can be found in solder and circuit boards

Even at low levels, exposure to lead can have severe health implications, especially for children. Neurological development can be impaired, manifesting as learning difficulties, behavioural problems, and reduced cognitive function.

3. Mercury

Found in switches and backlights of some older printers, mercury, a toxic liquid metal, poses significant health risks upon exposure. The nervous system, kidneys, and lungs are particularly vulnerable. 

Beyond health concerns, mercury contamination can extend to water sources, threatening aquatic life and potentially entering the human food chain.

4. Plastic

Constituting a substantial portion of printers, plastic components like casings and circuit boards contribute to the growing plastic pollution crisis

Improper disposal of plastic leads to accumulation in landfills, oceans, and waterways, adversely impacting wildlife and disrupting delicate ecosystems.

As we part ways with our old printers, acknowledging and addressing these hazardous materials becomes paramount. 

It’s not just about discarding electronic devices; it’s about ensuring that our farewell is thoughtful and considerate, safeguarding not only our immediate surroundings but also the wider environment we all share.

Now that we’ve grasped the possible environmental risks, let’s delve into the process of getting your printer ready for removal.

Instructions for preparing a printer for removal

1. Remove Consumables

  • Locate Toner or Ink Cartridges: Typically situated on the front or side of the printer.
  • Open the Cartridge Compartment: Gently follow the manufacturer’s instructions to open the cartridge compartment.
  • Remove Toner or Ink Cartridges: Carefully lift the cartridges out of their slots.
  • Store Toner or Ink Cartridges: Place removed cartridges in a secure container to avoid spills or damage.

2. Disconnect Cables

  • Locate Power Cable: Identify the power cable at the printer’s back.
  • Unplug Power Cable: Firmly disconnect it from the electrical outlet.
  • Disconnect USB Cable: Locate the USB cable at the back and gently pull it out.
  • Disconnect Network Cable (if applicable): If connected to a network, unplug the network cable from the printer’s port.

3. Secure Loose Parts

  • Check for Detachable Parts: Inspect for loose parts like trays or feeders.
  • Secure Loose Parts: Gently slide or lock detachable parts to prevent falls.
  • Close Covers and Doors: Ensure all covers and doors are securely closed.

4. Wipe Data

  • Access Printer Settings: Power on the printer and access its settings.
  • Locate Data Erase Option: Navigate to the menu for data erasing or factory resetting.
  • Initiate Data Erase: Follow the on-screen instructions to start the data erase process.
  • Confirm Data Erase: After completion, verify that all data has been erased.

5. Check for Recycling Programs

  • Contact Printer Manufacturer: Visit the manufacturer’s website or contact customer support about recycling programs.
  • Check Local Recycling Options: Visit your local municipality or waste management website for e-waste recycling centres.
  • Research Online Resources: Use online directories like Earth911 and Call2Recycle to find e-waste recycling centres nearby.

By following these steps, you not only prepare your old printer for removal but also contribute to responsible and environmentally friendly disposal practices.

With your printer all set for removal, you might be wondering: How can I responsibly dispose of my old companion? 

Moving on from the preparation steps, this part of our guide takes a closer look at 6-7 methods, offering detailed explanations for each.

Ways To Dispose of Old Printer 

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1. Recycling Centers

When you decide to recycle your old printer at an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling centre, you’re choosing a place with skilled experts dedicated to handling the disposal process responsibly and safely. 

These centres specialize in carefully recycling electronic devices and recovering valuable materials like metals and plastics for reuse in manufacturing new products. 

What’s especially significant is their ability to deal with hazardous components, such as lead and mercury, ensuring that these materials are extracted and managed in a way that respects our environment, preventing any harm to our ecosystems. 

Making this choice, you’re not just contributing to sustainable resource use but also showing a commitment to responsible disposal, actively reducing the ecological impact of electronic waste.

2. Manufacturer Takeback Programs:

Discover the Manufacturer Takeback Programs – a thoughtful initiative from printer manufacturers that makes parting with your old printer easy and rewarding. 

Participating, you simply send your old printer back to the manufacturer. 

In return, they show appreciation for your responsible disposal efforts with incentives like discounts on a new printer or even a recycling fee. 

It’s not just an upgrade; it’s a partnership in promoting environmentally conscious practices, ensuring that your old printer is treated with the care and consideration it deserves.

3. Retailer Trade-In Programs

Take part in Retailer Trade-In Programs, an easy and eco-conscious choice available at electronics stores like Best Buy. 

Trading in your old printer not only makes room for a new and improved model but also unlocks valuable discounts on your upgrade. 

The trade-in value is determined by considering factors such as your printer’s age, condition, and specific model. 

It’s a fantastic way to embrace more sustainable technology and enjoy the perks of the latest innovations while giving your old printer a chance at a second life.

4. Local Donation Centers 

Explore the heartwarming possibility of gifting your still-functional old printer to local schools, community centres, or non-profit organizations. 

Your generous donation becomes a gateway for those in need to access essential technology, creating opportunities for learning and community engagement. 

Beyond simply discarding a device, you’re providing a meaningful resource that can make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and organizations within your local community.

5. E-Waste Collection Events

E-Waste Collection Events make it easy for you to responsibly part with your old printer. 

Attend these community events, drop off your printer conveniently, and skip the hassle of transporting it to a recycling centre. 

It’s a local and accessible solution designed to simplify the process of discarding electronic devices, ensuring that your contribution to responsible disposal is both convenient and community-oriented.

6. Online Recycling Platforms:

Online Recycling Platforms offer a modern and user-friendly approach to electronic device recycling

Choose these dedicated platforms, schedule a pickup, or opt for mail-in services to dispose of your old printer securely and hassle-free. 

This user-friendly online option caters to your convenience, making the responsible management of electronic waste a smoother and more accessible process.

7. Upcycling Projects 

Unleash your creativity by turning your still-working old printer into imaginative upcycling projects. 

Instead of letting it sit unused, envision a transformation into something entirely new and personal. 

Whether it takes on the role of a DIY planter, a practical craft organizer, or even a unique piece of furniture, the possibilities are boundless. 

Upcycling breathes fresh life into your old printer, infusing your living space with a touch of uniqueness and showcasing your artistic flair. 

This not only minimizes waste but also allows you to express your creativity, turning a once-functional device into a distinctive and purposeful addition to your home.

8. Educational Purposing

Engaging in Educational Purposing provides a heartfelt option. When you generously donate your old printer to schools or educational institutions, you play an active role in enhancing educational experiences. 

Your contribution transforms into a valuable resource, fostering lessons about technology, electronics, and even robotics for students. 

It’s an opportunity to spark curiosity and facilitate learning, ensuring that your old printer becomes a tool in shaping the next generation’s grasp of modern technology. 

In doing so, your impact goes beyond your immediate surroundings, leaving a positive imprint on the broader educational landscape.

Discarding a printer isn’t just wasteful; in some places, it might even be against the law.

Fortunately, responsibly getting rid of your old machine is simple, and it presents an opportunity to assist someone else. 

If your printer is still in good shape, you might even consider selling it and putting the proceeds towards a new printer or other tech upgrades. 

Don’t let your old printers linger, collecting dust or filling up landfills. 

Give them a new purpose through recycling, donating, or selling – a choice that not only clears up space but also contributes positively to the environment or someone else’s needs.

Options for Recycling and Buyback

Numerous organizations are committed to ensuring that your printer is recycled responsibly, with valuable materials recovered. 

Here are some user-friendly programs that cater to this eco-conscious approach:

1. Earth911

Earth911 serves as a comprehensive online resource, offering a directory of e-waste recycling centres and manufacturer buyback programs.

Locate options near you by searching their database based on location, device type, and brand.

2. Call2Recycle

As a non-profit organization, Call2Recycle specializes in collecting and recycling batteries, electronics, and printer cartridges. 

With over 35,000 drop-off locations across the United States and Canada, they make recycling accessible and widespread.

3. HP Planet Partners

HP Planet Partners, an initiative by HP, focuses on recycling old HP printers and electronics

They provide a user-friendly mail-in recycling program for individuals and businesses, along with a partnership with Staples for convenient in-store drop-offs.

4. Brother Earth Friendly Program

The Brother Earth Friendly Program welcomes Brother printers and electronics for recycling. 

Their hassle-free mail-in recycling program caters to both individuals and businesses, and they also collaborate with select retail partners for easy in-store drop-offs.

5. Lexmark Recycling Program

The Lexmark Recycling Program facilitates the responsible disposal of Lexmark printers and electronics. 

With a user-friendly mail-in recycling program for individuals and businesses, as well as a partnership with Office Depot, they ensure accessibility to recycling services.

Choosing one of these programs, you not only ensure the proper disposal of your old printer but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.

Additional Thoughtful Tips

1. Remove all Toner or Ink Cartridges: Take a moment to detach all toner or ink cartridges from your printer. 

These components can often be recycled separately, so check with the cartridge manufacturer for specific recycling guidelines.

2. Secure Packing: Ensure your printer is packed securely for its recycling journey. If you still have the original packaging, that’s ideal. 

Otherwise, use a robust box and surround your printer with ample packing material to prevent any damage during transportation.

3. Clear Labeling: Make it easy for everyone involved by clearly labelling the box as holding an old printer designated for recycling. 

This small step contributes to a smoother recycling process.

4. Follow Recycling Center or Manufacturer Instructions: Different recycling centres or manufacturers may have specific instructions for preparing and sending in your old printer. 

It’s essential to carefully follow their guidelines to guarantee that your printer undergoes proper recycling procedures. 

This ensures that your efforts toward responsible recycling have the intended positive impact on the environment.

Recycling Print Cartridges

In the realm of electronic waste management, disposing of printer cartridges responsibly is a crucial step towards environmental sustainability

Just like the printers themselves, used cartridges contain materials that can pose environmental hazards if not handled and recycled properly. 

Therefore, recycling cartridges not only conserves resources but also prevents potential harm to the environment.

1. Know Your Cartridge: Before diving into recycling options, identify the type and brand of your cartridges. This information will guide you in finding the most suitable recycling solution.

2. Spot Recycling Symbols: Spotting Recycling Symbols is your first step to ensuring responsible disposal. 

Keep an eye out for these symbols on your cartridges, serving as crucial indicators of recyclability. 

Additionally, you have various Recycling Options for Print Cartridges, including Manufacturer Takeback Programs, Retailer Takeback Programs, and Community Collection Events. 

These avenues offer accessible and responsible ways to contribute to the recycling effort for a more sustainable future.

3. Handle with Care: Pack your cartridges with care. Ensuring they are securely packed will protect them from any damage during transportation, allowing for a smoother recycling experience.

4. Separate from the Printer: When it’s time to recycle, keep cartridges separate from the printer. 

This simple step streamlines the process and ensures that each component is handled appropriately.

5. Follow Specific Instructions: Each recycling program or facility may have specific instructions. To guarantee a successful recycling endeavour, follow these guidelines carefully. 

This ensures that your cartridges are recycled in the most effective and environmentally friendly way possible.


Embracing these suggestions and exploring the diverse disposal choices allows you to play a part in promoting a sustainable approach to managing electronic waste. 

Keep in mind that responsibly letting go of your old printers isn’t just about safeguarding the environment—it’s a step towards building a greener and healthier future for us all.


Are old printers worth keeping?

Old printers can be worth keeping if they still meet your needs. Consider factors like functionality, compatibility with modern technology, and the availability of replacement parts.

If your printer is outdated and lacks essential features, upgrading to a newer model might be more beneficial in terms of performance and energy efficiency.

Does HP have a buyback program?

Yes, HP offers a buyback program. Through HP’s Planet Partners program, you can responsibly dispose of your old HP printers and electronics.

This initiative promotes recycling and sustainability, allowing you to contribute to environmental efforts while potentially receiving incentives for your old devices.

How long do home printers last?

The lifespan of a home printer varies based on usage and maintenance. On average, home printers can last anywhere from three to five years.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning printheads and using quality paper, can extend their lifespan.

However, evolving technology and changing needs may prompt upgrades before a printer reaches the end of its physical life.

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