Whether your printer is a small budget inkjet or a large workhorse laser, a single-function printer or a multifunctional all-in-one (AIO), you’ll need to find a responsible manner to dispose of it at some point. Perhaps it was permanently broken; perhaps you simply replaced it with a better model. Whatever the cause, disposing of it ethically entails ensuring that it is restored and placed back into service, or that its materials are recycled properly. This is how you can make it happen.
Giving Your Old Printer Away
Whether your printer is still functional or has reached the end of its useful life, several organizations, such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army, will take and recycle your items. Here are a few of the many programs that are available. Some are only available in certain areas.
The WCE stands for the World Computer Exchange. The World Computer Exchange (WCE) distributes used and refurbished computers and accessories, among many other services aimed at “reducing the digital divide for children in underdeveloped nations.” The WCE has supplied equipment to computer laboratories serving just under 5 million adolescents in 51 developing nations, thanks to chapters of hundreds of volunteers in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Puerto Rico. WCE provides drop-off facilities in a number of major American cities, territories, and regions, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C./Baltimore, as well as Ottawa (Canada) and Monrovia (Liberia) (Liberia).
Cristina Foundation of the United States. Donated equipment is not physically received, serviced, or placed by the National Cristina Foundation. This website aids in the connection between a donor wishing to donate equipment and a prescreened recipient organization (such as Xerox, one of the foundation’s numerous members). The Cristina search engine produced 21 probable recipients for secondhand printers in my area when I searched a 50-mile radius in my neck of the woods in Southern California. The White Oak Computer Lab at White Oak Elementary School, for example, was seeking for 10 printers that met the criteria given in the graphic below…
e-Stewards. e-Stewards is a non-profit organization made up of accredited electronics, recycling, and refurbishing businesses from all over the world. While e-Stewards is a major organization with a lot of clout in the recycling and refurbishment industries, it also offers a website where you can look for recycling, refurbishment, and consumer drop-off facilities in your area.
Reconnect with Dell. Goodwill and Dell partnered in 2004 to recycle or refurbish most sorts of office and IT equipment, including printers. Simply drop off your used printer at one of Goodwill’s over 3,000 shops or drop-off locations to participate.
It’s Easy to Give on eBay. If you’re willing to put in a little legwork to get your no-longer-needed printer into the hands of those who need it, eBay will help you sell it and then donate 10% to 100% of the revenues to a charity of your choice. Visit eBay’s eBay for Charity page for more information.
You’ll surely find additional viable destinations if you search the Internet. Of course, if a printer is still functional, it is far more value to a good cause. A brief visit to PickupPlease.org, a site that accepts donations for Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), should help if you have a working single-function or all-in-one machine that you just want to get rid of. VVA is one of the most important organizations fighting to ensure that Vietnam veterans receive the assistance they require.
At a Big-Box Store, Recycling
However, the most obvious approach to dispose of a broken printer is to place it in the trunk of your car and drive it to a nearby recycling center. Rather than throwing it in the trash (or even the recycle bin), this method usually ensures that it is dismantled and all of the various materials—plastics, metals (including difficult-to-deal-with ones like lead), and circuit boards—are properly separated and recycled, or broken down and responsibly repurposed.
There are plenty of other possibilities if the machine works or if it’s too huge and heavy for you to load and transport. If you just want to get rid of it quickly, a fast internet search will turn up local and national groups that will pick it up for free or for a nominal cost. (An organization that specializes in resources for special-needs children comes around in a big truck in my little hamlet, for example, and will haul off just about everything.)
Several electronics and office supply stores also have recycling programs. The two most popular are listed below.
Staples. Staples has been recycling printers and other gear for free for a while now, regardless of where they were purchased. You can either drop the machine off at your local Staples shop or have it picked up by calling. (In fact, the company’s electronics recycling site covers up to 36 major categories, ranging from coffee machines to gaming consoles to small web servers, as well as printers, all-in-ones, and everything else.) Not only will the firm pick up your printer, but you may also request a box and other packaging by calling beforehand. Staples is also an e-Stewards Enterprise, which means it has committed to employing e-Stewards-certified recyclers to manage the equipment it collects, ensuring that your old printer is ethically moved on to the next phase of its e-waste journey. (It’s worth noting that Staples’ recycle and buy-back program has been discontinued due to the COVID-19 situation.)
Best Buy is a retailer that sells a variety of For years, Best Buy, like Staples, has been recycling e-waste, including printers. This chain’s printer-recycling program, on the other hand, is a touch more appealing, as it offers 15% off select new HP printers if you bring in any printer, regardless of who built it or where you got it. If you’re looking for a new printer and the “select” models fit your demands, this is a great offer. However, compared to the Staples program, Best Buy charges a fee to remove your equipment in most circumstances. (During the COVID-19 crisis, Best Buy also halted their recycling and buy-back program.)
Alternatives to Recycling and Buyback
Most major printer manufacturers have recycling or buy-back programs for their clients. Each one is unique, and they aren’t necessarily free, depending on the product. Here’s how it works.
Canon. Simply complete an online form, and the company will provide you with an estimate of how much money it is willing to pay for your printer. Recycling options will be suggested if it is decided that it has little value.
Epson. This program is only for recycling, but it is straightforward. Print a prepaid label, then pack up your printer and deliver it to a FedEx store. The recycling will be handled by Epson.
HP. The HP Consumer Buyback and Planet Partners Recycling Program will buy printers from any manufacturer initially sold by any vendor (at current market value, of course). For example, if your used Brother, Canon, or Epson machine has street value, you can sell it here. If HP concludes that your printer has no monetary value, you will be given choices for recycling. (It’s worth noting that HP has stated that its recycle and buy-back operations may be halted at any time during the COVID-19 situation.)
OKI Data is a company that specializes in data. The recycling schemes offered by OKI Data differ per state. For more information, go here.
Xerox. Xerox’s recycling choices differ by state, and the corporation collaborates with the National Cristina Foundation. Here’s where you can find them.
The Bottom Line: Stay away from the Trash Heap at all costs.
I won’t go into great length here, but keep in mind that, aside from the buyback schemes mentioned above, you have a lot of choices for selling your used printer if it’s still in good shape. This is especially true of high-quality corporate printers and AIOs, as well as professional photo printers. Aside from the buyback programs listed here, there are a slew of websites where you may sell your old electronics, the most well-known of which being Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay.
However, if your printer has reached the end of its useful life or you want to do something good, donating or recycling are simple possibilities. In 25 states, legislation enabling electronic-waste recycling programs has been implemented, and many printer manufacturers and dealers have gone to great lengths to responsibly dispose of their customers’ used goods. The good news is that it’s extremely simple to prevent these devices and the materials they’re made of from causing more environmental damage than is necessary. There are a plethora of options for keeping your printer out of the trash, including donating, recycling, or selling it for cash. When it reaches the end of its useful life, do the appropriate thing.
When you’re ready to replace your printer, check out our overview of the top printers on the market right now, as well as our in-depth look at how to save money with low-cost printer ink programs.
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