I have a master's degree in social work with a specialization in mental health. I enjoy writing on a wide variety of topics.
What to Do With Old Printers
Printer recycling is kind to Mother Earth, and fortunately, for that reason, electronic recycling has caught on and the number of methods available are on the rise. Since the price of printers has dropped so dramatically in recent years, printers have become somewhat disposable. You can buy a decent printer for around $100 at this point. So, when trouble arises and printer troubleshooting is not your forte, you may end up purchasing a brand-new one. The cost of printer cartridges is still steep, so it seems to make sense for a lot of folks to just scrap the old one and replace it with a new one with brand-new cartridges.
We've had quite a few printers in recent years and have needed to recycle them. As part of my ongoing method to live a greener life, just throwing away an old printer is anathema to me. Computers and electronic equipment are sometimes sent to developing countries for "disposal." Trouble is, there are no disposal regulations in many of these countries. Improper disposal is causing health, environmental, and safety issues for many people as a result.
So, I want to share with you the options for printer recycling. It's easier than ever due to the rapidly growing number of choices now. So, please, don't just chuck that old printer—let's keep people safe and e-waste out of our landfills.
Printer Recycling Options for Nonworking Printers
- Recycling Programs From the Manufacturer: How you'll recycle your printer may very well depend upon what kind of printer you have. Companies like HP have set up special incentives for printer recycling, programs that will benefit you, them, and the environment... They're win-win in my book.
- Local Electronics Recycling Centers: If you opt for local options, you'll need to do a bit of research. You will need to locate the electronics recycling center(s) in your area. The National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) has recycling centers throughout the United States. It's easy, it's free!
- Electronic Recycling Companies: There are also electronics recycling companies you can use. Of course, there's a fee involved for these.
Printer Recycling Options for Working Printers
- Donate to Local Organizations: If your printer still works and you're just upgrading, please donate your old one to a worthy cause. Let's all try to reuse our working, newer equipment. You could check with schools, churches and nonprofit organizations. Call your city council for a list of nonprofit organizations or agencies in your area.
- Donate to National Organizations: Or you can contact the National Cristina Foundation, a nonprofit organization that matches donated computer equipment and technology to schools, charities, nonprofits, and public agencies. They are in all 50 states and Canada as well as numerous locations internationally.
- Sell It on Craigslist: If it still works, you can also advertise it on Craigslist. If you need the money, this is a good option for you. It's the more profitable route compared to the buy-back programs companies offer.
Companies That Offer Buy-Back Programs
What follows is a partial list of the major manufacturers that offer printer recycling with links to their programs. Many will recycle brands from any manufacturer, but you need to check with each individual company for specifics. As always, make sure to read the fine print.
Hewlett Packard (HP) offers a recycling program for not only their printers, but non-HP brands as well. This program may have a small fee, depending upon your country of residence, as well as the brand you have. When I last checked, they will pay for the shipping and handling of only Compaq and HP printers.They also have a buyback option for people who are interested in getting a little cash back.
They arrange to have the printer picked up at your residence or place of business, which is very nice. You will need to appropriately box it up though. Again, if you choose the sell back option, you're not going to recover much of the price you paid for the printer this way, but for many, the ease of the transaction makes it well worth it. Their website has detailed instructions on how to go about recycling and utilizing their buy back program.
Epson provides worldwide printer recycling programs. Epson, however, doesn't recycle any other brands besides their own. You will need to appropriately package up the printer and use Fed Ex to mail it to the company. In addition to their recycling program, Epson has also partnered with the National Cristina Foundation to provide people access to technology they wouldn't otherwise have.
Lexmark recycles in Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States, although it offers cartridge or equipment recycling programs in over 50 countries. They will only recycle Lexmark branded printers, however... but they do it for free. You are allowed to use whatever shipping method is most convenient for you.
Dell has an impressive number of free recycling options.
- You may drop off your printer at a Goodwill that participates in the Dell Reconnect program.
- They've partnered with the National Cristina Foundation and provide pick-up or drop-off services.
- You may drop off your printer at Staples.
- They offer technology trade-ins for a new product.
- They offer at-home pick up, for free. They will pay for shipping and handling.
- Dell has a trade/exchange program, too. You are able to get cash back for products in good condition.
Find an E-Cycling Center in Your Area
This is a great, free way to recycle electronics. Most major cities have these centers, some require you drop them off, while others will actually come pick them up for you. Many of them fix them up, refurbish them and resell them. So, it's a win-win situation for everyone- someone else will get the chance to use your old printer and it won't be gathering dust in your house anymore. E-cycling Central has links to all centers across the United States.
Don't Forget to Recycle Your Printer Cartridges, Too!
Many office supply stores offer cartridge recycling incentives. Staples, for example will give you $2 back in Staples rewards. So, hold onto those empties... there's a financial incentive as well as a disincentive to keep all that nasty ink away from our precious Earth.
There are also some companies that offer ink cartridge refill! This is definitely a cheaper alternative than purchasing new ones each time. If you don't know about Cartridge World, it's time to get to know them. Of course, they're not the only company that offers this service, but they're quite reputable. Plus, they have 1,700 stores worldwide, so they're pretty easy to find.
If you have any input or have any recommendations for printer recycling, please leave me a comment below.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Ingenira on January 17, 2011:
Ahh.... I have an old usable printer which I should really donate it or sell it off. Thanks for reminding !