How to properly dispose of empty toner cartridges.

Why it is important and easy to dispose of toner in an environmentally friendly way.

Careful, particulate matter! Handling and disposing of toners.

Anyone who owns a laser printer probably already knows: The fine ink dust that is released during every printing process is not necessarily improving your health. The fact that unfiltered emissions can cause irritation and allergies if inhaled is a known risk. Because of this, many manufacturers equip their devices with a particulate matter filter, or ensure that a laser printer can atleast be retrofitted with one. But how do you dispose of the empty cartridges once they need replacing? Empty toner cartridges, which are in fact not completely empty, are no less toxic than new ones, and are considered hazardous waste.

Alternative bio-toner - still expensive, but sensible in the long run.

Due to these concerns, alternatives have been being tinkered with for quite some time. One alternative is called a bio-toner. Bio-toners are filled with a toner powder using recycled original parts, which replaces the petroleum content with renewable raw materials – mostly soy, but also corn, or cottonseed. Experts say that this toner saves up to 3 litres of crude oil, and the emissions from the printing process are completely harmless.

The „healthy“ cartridges are still significantly more expensive than the original toners and are not yet available for all printer models. For both manufacturers and consumers, recycling conventional toners still remains the priority.

1000 good reasons to speak out against disposing of toner in household waste.

Old or empty toners should not be disposed of as household waste under any circumstances, because it contains particulate matter residue. The oil required to manufacture the cartridges is another reason to dispose of toner in an environmentally friendly way: most of the toner’s individual parts can be recycled atleast once. The robust plastic casing around the toner can definitely be reused without any problems if the original toner parts have already been replaced. In their corresponding recycling programs, all major manufacturers now ensure that their empty toner cartridges are recycled for resale, and that no longer usable parts are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

The law regulates manufacturers and buyers.

Brother, Canon, HP, & Co. have long been legally obligated to collect empty cartridges and recycle them. The so-called „Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act“ (KrWG) of 2012 is clear: "The producers or owners of waste are obligated to recycle their waste. The recycling of waste has priority over its disposal. (...)" This applies not only to the manufacturer, but also to consumer or buyer of the products.

The companies harldly have any room to use discretion – they usually use the recycling programmes offered by the manufacturers or have their empty cartridges collected by specialized disposal companies. However, households can easily dispose of empty cartridges responsibly and free of charge.

Here are some of your options:

1. Back to the manufacturer.

Returning cartridges for recycling is similar for all manufacturers: A return label for the package or envelope can usually be found and printed out from the company’s website. The label will allow your package to be shipped free of charge. In the case of large quantities of empty cartridges, the manufacturers usually provide collection boxes, which they often collect free of charge.

2. back to the vendor: online providers and local stores.

Online merchants also take back their empty toners. They often work with DHL, GLS, DPD, as well as other postal service companies. Be sure to check if they require you to return a minimum number of toners!

Prindo's recycling service offers an easy way to dispose of empty toners in an environmentally friendly way without shipping costs.

Even electronics stores make it easy for the consumer: most stores have a collection box where you can easily drop off your empty cartridges.

3. To the specialists: private waste disposal companies.

Some certified disposal companies specialize in toners and ink cartridges; they also often cooperate with postal service companies and in most cases offer a free return service. When it comes to empty toner cartridges, it is to be noted that sometimes, only cartridges that are in their first life cycle are accepted – and even then only the undamaged ones, because only those cartridges can be almost totally recycled and therefore have added value for companies like

4. Go for a payday:  purchasing companies.

Disposal enterprises like offer  remuneration for empty toner cartridges – creating a win-win situation for all those involved. You should, however follow these steps: first, check if your cartridges are accepted! There are usually pages online that list what models are accepted. The price also depends on the model: the higher the demand, the more money you will be offered.

Attention: In order to be able to send the items without charge, a certain minimum purchase value (approx. 30 €) usually has to be met.

5. Waste collectors: The recycling centres.

Disposal at the nearest recycling centre is free of charge and uncomplicated, and every kind of toner is accepted. Be efficient: while you are there, you can also dispose of other materials such as old electrical appliances, paint, or bulky waste. You can find out more information from your regional waste disposal company.

Correctly disposing of toner? It has never been easier.

One thing is certain: there is no plausible reason to throw empty toner cartridges into the regular waste basket. Environmentally friendly disposal takes neither time nor effort. Like many other habits, disposing of empty toner cartridges is nothing more than a habit. So start a new good habit and stick with it! In 20 years we will no longer be able to imagine simply throwing empty cartridges in the trash.