Removing electronic waste can be tricky at times. Here's what you need to know.
- You can 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.
When your printer comes to the end of its life, where does it go? Are there recycling options? Do you just 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 properly dispose of a printer.
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. 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. Recycling electronics is a better, less costly way to get rid of used equipment. It's not the only option, though.
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.
1. Recycle old printers
The fastest and easiest way to get rid of old printers is to recycle them. Retailers like Best Buy often have labeled recycle bins in the store, so you can just drop off your printers in the designated bin. Other stores that have a recycling program include Target, Staples and Office Depot. Most towns have one of those major chains nearby, so recycling your unwanted electronics shouldn't be a burdensome chore.
Another option is to go to an e-waste collection center. Depending on where you live, a center likely already exists in your area. Check with your 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.
To make it even easier on consumers and business owners to get rid of old tech, some cities and counties hold day- or weekend-long events to collect electronic waste. Drop your printers off 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 electronic equipment.
You can also check E-cycling Central to find e-waste recycling programs and private companies that collect old printers near you. Start by selecting your state. You can then organize search results by program name, type of organization, city and ZIP code. This is a handy tool to quickly determine a location that can accept your used printers, cell phones, fax machines and more. It's not a bad idea to check up on your equipment situation fairly regularly to better determine when you should get rid of your old tech.
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 call them first to see if they'll accept your printer. The companies may only accept some devices as part of their take-back programs.
2. Donate old printers
One man's trash is another man's treasure. If they still work, many organizations will be happy to take your old printers and put them to good use. These include schools, recreation centers, community organizations, thrift shops, charities and nonprofits.
These organizations can use the old equipment, and you'll build a good brand reputation within the community. While you can certainly recycle old printers, it's never a bad idea to help out organizations in need.
You can also donate old printers to organizations that specialize in electronics outreach programs 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.
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.
Even if your printers don't work, don't think you shouldn't donate them. Many charities and organizations can still sell nonworking electronics for cash or trade them in for gift cards. In addition to your printers, you may consider donating old computers, computer monitors and other old electronic items that might benefit organizations in need of some tech.
If you give your old printers away to qualified charities, you may even be able to make tax deductions due to charitable giving rules. Check with the IRS to be sure your donation qualifies, but you're likely able to receive some monetary benefit for donating to nonprofits and charities.
3. Sell old printers
If they are 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: Get a quote, ship the printer, and get paid by check or via PayPal.
- SellYourPrinters.com: This 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: Simply make a post or join buy and sell groups on Facebook to sell your printer locally. These groups can get crowded, but there's plenty of opportunity to sell used tech through social forums and groups.
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 finding these places, and then calling to see if they accept your type of printer and brand.
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, take a look at the sales 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.
The bottom line on printer recycling
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 gain 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 gain some excess cash for your business.
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.