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Can I throw away an old printer?

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    Should you throw away an old printer?

    When your copy machine or printer finally bites the dust or is replaced with a new model, you may be wondering what to do with your old machine. Many people don't know that these machines contain materials that can pollute the earth, and incorrect disposal of them is incredibly hazardous to the environment. Read on to learn how to dispose of a copier or printer properly.

    At an increase of about 8 per cent per year, electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest-growing segment of the Australian waste stream. Contributing to the problem is the fact that less than 10 per cent of electronics such as printers, fax machines, etc. are recycled – the remaining 90 per cent end up in incinerators or landfills where their harmful toxins are released into the atmosphere and can then cause harm to your health. Instead of allowing these chemicals (including mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and selenium) to enter our air or water supply, consider the following alternatives.

    National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme

    E-waste recycling services are provided across metropolitan, regional and remote Australia as part of the Australian Government’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. This industry-funded scheme makes it easier for people to have their televisions, computers, printers, computer parts and accessories recycled for free.

    Where can I recycle my TVs and computers?

    The NTCRS provides around 98 per cent of Australia’s population with reasonable access to collection services for televisions and computer parts. Location and opening times for recycling and collection services are determined by the organisations who manage them, with flexibility provided to suit local circumstances. Services may include a permanent collection site at a local waste transfer station or retail outlet, or one-off recycling events. These may be operated through local council or resource management centres. Services are free for households and small businesses, while charges may apply for larger businesses. Not all drop-off points in Australia are part of the scheme, and fees may be payable at some locations. Contact the providers below or your local council for details.

    Planet Ark maintains a database of television and computer drop-off points. Search for recycling near you:

    Four organisations have been approved to deliver recycling services under the scheme. For more information, including details of the collection services and drop-off points they provide, visit their websites:

    Printers are common computer accessories, and like most accessories will begin to experience performance loss and other problems over time. Whether you replace a printer because a newer model has additional features or because the old printer no longer works, you shouldn't simply throw the device into the trash once it's no longer needed. Proper disposal of computer accessories is environmentally friendly, and you may be able to help out a good cause by doing so as well.

    When your 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 of what happens to their trusty printer once they're ready for a new one, but as with any other type of waste, your business needs to know how to dispose of a printer properly.

    Getting rid of old printers is like getting rid of other electronics – you can't just throw them out. Printer ink cartridges contain toxic substances, and many states have legislation against the disposal of electronic waste (e-waste). Businesses that illegally dump electronics can face huge fines. 

    So how do you get rid of those old printers that are sitting around collecting dust and cluttering your office? You can recycle them, donate them or sell them. Here's how.

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    Hazards of E-Waste

    If printers aren't disposed of properly, printer components containing potentially toxic materials are placed in landfills or incinerated, allowing these materials to leach into the soil or enter the air like ash. In addition to chemicals in the ink and toner used by printers, circuit boards and other components can contain hazardous metals such as lead and mercury. 

    Printer Preparation

    Before disposing of a printer, make sure that any SD cards, removable memory or other add-ons have been removed from the printer. Remove the print cartridges from the printer, disconnect USB or other connecting cables and remove the power cord. The print cartridges should be disposed of separately through a recycling program. At the same time, the USB cable, power cord or other cables can be reused by other electronics or disposed of separately. If the printer is still in working condition, include the power cable with the printer when dropping it off so that it can be refurbished if that is an option.

    Check recycling drop-off point providers to confirm what’s accepted in each location. Drop-off points may also accept other e-waste such as mobile phones, batteries and electronics.

    Where can I recycle mobile phones?

    The following government-accredited organisation delivers mobile phone and accessory recycling. Visit their website to find out about their collection services and drop-off points.

    Where can I recycle other products?

    You can search the Planet Ark database to find out where to recycle other products such as printer cartridges, batteries, light globes, paint, whitegoods and plastic.

    Further information

    Proper Disposal

    Once the printer is prepared for disposal, it should be taken to a centre that specializes in the recycling and disposal of electronic waste. These centres process the printers they take in, disassembling them and cleaning the parts to remove any link or corrosion that may have accumulated during the printer's lifetime. Recyclable plastic, metals and other materials will be separated so they can be properly recycled while any materials that cannot be recycled will be disposed of safely. Depending on the options offered by the recycling centre, you may be paid for the materials in the printer you bring in.

    Manufacturer Buyback Programs

    Some printer manufacturers offer buyback and recycling programs, eliminating the need for you to locate and visit a local recycling facility. Manufacturer buyback programs typically require you to visit the manufacturer's website to receive a quote and print a shipping label; in most cases, these buyback programs will accept printers from other manufacturers as well. Though you are responsible for packaging and shipping out the printer, the cost of shipping is typically paid for by the program. Once the manufacturer receives your printer, you will be paid based on the condition and model of the printer if the printer still has commercial value. In some cases, you may be able to drop off the printer at a retail partner of the manufacturer to eliminate the need for shipping.

    Recycling Print Cartridges

    Print cartridges are typically recycled separately from printers themselves to keep them and any ink they contain out of landfills. Many retailers that sell print cartridges offer drop boxes where used cartridges can be placed for recycling, and several printer manufacturers offer mail-in recycling services as well. Recycling print cartridges ensures that any ink remaining in them is drained safely and that the cartridges themselves are broken down and cleaned before any components are recycled or disposed of.

    Donating Printers

    If a printer is still in working condition, consider donating the printer instead of disposing of it. Some organizations accept donated computer equipment and, after performing testing and refurbishing if necessary, then distribute it either to programs or to lower-income families with school-aged children or others who would benefit from having access to basic computer equipment at home. Other organizations operate thrift stores or other sales outlets and sell working used equipment as a way to raise funds for community services.

    What to Do Before Disposing of an Old Printer

    When your printers or fax machines have been rendered obsolete for any reason, you may not be experienced in the proper guidelines for disposal. Handling potential electronic waste is a crucial process, and companies may require internal standards to be met alongside state and federal guidelines for e-waste removal. 

    Printers have removable components like print cartridges that may be required to be removed or recycled depending on the method of disposal. 

    Preparing a printer for disposal streamlines the process for all parties involved. Components like ink cartridges must be removed and recycled if possible beforehand. Cartridges left behind may complicate the e-waste recycling processor could be a hassle to replace for a donation recipient. 

    Almost all modern printers contain highly customizable software, allowing the user to set preferences for many printing/copying functions. Restore your old printers to factory default settings, especially before donation. Always remember to include critical accessories like print trays and power cables with the device. 

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    Recycling Options

    If you are asking yourself, "How do I dispose of a printer?" The three main options that you have been selling, recycling, or donating the printer. In this section, we will discuss the various recycling options that you have. If you are looking for a quick way to dispose of your printer, recycling tends to be the best method of disposal. People often answer the question of how to dispose of a printer with recycling. However, those people are not fully aware of how or where your printer can be recycled. 

    Recycle Your Old Printer with a Retail Store

    Some of the most convenient options for printer disposal are as close as your nearest electronics store. Many big-name retailers feature electronic recycling programs that take the hassle out of the process for consumers and businesses alike. 

    Retail recycling programs will harvest out-of-use devices for valuable components for future use. 

    Local Recycling Centers for Quick Printer Disposal

    If your local recycling centre accepts electronic waste, your printer will most likely be an acceptable item for disposal. Many local recycling centres have dedicated electronic waste receptacles and may even offer a cash sum in exchange for materials. 

    If you're not sure whether your local recycling centre takes e-waste, you can verify via their website or call them on the phone. If a recycling centre doesn't accept your device(s), they will likely be able to direct you to one that does.

    Dedicated e-waste recycling vendors will be able to assess your needs based on the type and amount of electronics that you need to dispose of. 

    Recycling Print Cartridges

    Print cartridges are typically recycled separately from printers themselves to keep them and any ink they contain out of landfills. Many retailers that sell print cartridges offer drop boxes where used cartridges can be placed for recycling, and several printer manufacturers offer mail-in recycling services as well. Recycling print cartridges ensures that any ink remaining in them is drained safely and that the cartridges themselves are broken down and cleaned before any components are recycled or disposed of.

    How to Dispose of a Printer

    Selling Your Printer

    How to dispose of a printer is a worry of the past. There are so many options when it comes to selling your printer. Just think about it, selling a printer that is still in good working condition can help you offset the cost of a new printer. In this section, we will discuss your options when it comes to selling a used printer.

    Manufacturer Buyback Programs

    Many manufacturers such as Epson, Canon, HP, Sony, and Samsung offer e-waste recycling and take-back programs. These types of programs will eliminate the need to locate and visit a recycling facility. 

    To participate in a manufacturing buyback program, you will need to visit the manufacturer's website to get a quote on your printer. Keep in mind that most manufactures will recycle other printers as well. 

    You will be responsible for packing up the printer and shipping it back, but the program typically supplies you with a free shipping label. Once the printer reaches the manufacturer's facility, they will inspect the printer and offer a payout based on the condition and decide if the printer still has commercial value. 

    There are some cases where you may be able to drop the printer off at a retail partner of the manufacturer, which will eliminate the need to ship the printer.

    Alternative Methods of Selling a Printer

    Working with a manufacturer buyback program is not the only way to sell your old printer. Here are some alternative methods when wanting to turn your printer into cash.

    If your printer is not working, you still have some options. You may be able to sell it to someone who refurbishes electronics. There are loads of people who sell parts. It is all about doing the research and seeing if your printer has any value. If it is an older model, then it may not be worth it. You may want to opt for recycling.

    While selling your printer may take a little bit of your time, it is a great way to offset the cost of a new printer. Printers are expensive, and most will have you investing hundreds of dollars. This can be a big deal for small businesses.

    When pricing out your printer, make sure that you look at similar models and what they are currently selling for on the platform that you are using. This will help you get the proper value for your printer and give you the best chances of selling it to a potential buyer.  

    Donate Used Printer

    Is any of your out-of-use printing equipment still functional? Perhaps the company you belong to is revamping its office supplies, and you're left with perfectly capable older units as a result. Printers can be donated to schools, recreation centres, community organizations, thrift shops, as well as charities and nonprofits.

    Electronic donations can also provide extra benefits. Donating to an organization in need is a noble deed, and the good press that goes with it can be a strong positive for a company's public relations. 

    Recycling a printer is a great option, but if you can repurpose a printer that is in working condition, you can help out another organization that is in need. If you cannot find any local organizations to give to, there are specialized electronic outreach programs. 

    Don't have the misconception that your printer is worthless because it is not functioning properly. Some many charities and organizations will take non-working electronics to have them refurbished. While you're at it, take a look at other old equipment that you have laying around. Most of these organizations will also accept computers, monitors, and other old electronic devices.

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    woman makes photocopies in office

    Always Avoid the Trash Heap

    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. Please do the right thing when the inevitable end of its service life comes.

    Outdated and out-of-use electronic devices that aren't handled properly can range from an inconvenience to a sizable liability. Now that you understand how to dispose of a printer, you can put a plan of action in place. Whether you are an individual or a member of an organization, you should maintain a simple plan for handling old printers – not only to stay ahead of the curve but to mitigate any potential legal/financial issues from improper e-waste handling. 

    Some options for printer disposal may not be convenient for your specific needs – perhaps your nearest recycling centre is just too far away, or your old devices don't fit the donation requirements for your local nonprofit. 

    Whichever method you choose, our professionals at Forum Group can help to point you in the right direction to get your old printers and fax machines out of your hair and give them a renewed purpose. 

    Reduce waste and save costs with Forum's printer leasing

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