How to Dispose of a Multifunction Printer

By: Derek Rogers

As with most electrical equipment, your printer is full of plastics, components and potentially hazardous materials. Therefore, when it comes to disposing of your old multifunction printer it would be irresponsible to simply throw it in the bin and consign it to landfill purgatory.

What you really need to do is recycle it. Okay, recycling might take a little more effort, it may even cost you a few pounds, but ultimately it is both a legal and moral obligation that we all share to ensure that we dispose of consumables in a way that is protective of our environment.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive (WEEE) came into effect back in January 2007. It governs the safe disposal of electrical items and is managed by the Environment Agency in the UK. The WEEE directive ensures that manufacturers conform with basic disposal and recycling codes, but they also extend to businesses and even homeowners.

Essentially it’s just about common sense. If you have something that isn’t biodegradable and could be harmful, then you have to find a responsible way of disposing of it. To conform with the WEEE directive, your business or household multifunction laser printer needs to be properly recycled by a certified agency. Again, this might sound like a hassle, but it really shouldn’t be.

In fact most printer manufacturers will provide recycling advice and information when you purchase a new model or contact them regarding your current device. This may even include a low-price or even complementary disposal service; although of course this will vary across the various manufacturers and models.

To properly dispose of a printer you also need to ensure that it is free from any additional consumables, which includes ink cartridges. If your ink cartridge or toner is empty you should also recycle this separately. Most cartridges come with recycling instructions, which often include an address or envelope, so you shouldn’t have too many issues when it comes to getting rid of your superfluous ink.

Of course if your ink cartridge is still partially full, you may also need to look into either finding a company that disposes of ink safely or transferring the cartridge to your new/remaining printer.

The cost of disposing with your old multi-function printer is being driven down all the time. In fact you may even find that some services, including specialist electrical recycling sites, will take your it for free. There are companies who will collect the redundant printers, along with most other electronic devices; these will obviously charge a premium rate for their services, but it will certainly remove much of the inconvenience associated with recycling.

The recycling process can take many forms. Some components can often be salvaged and reused in models here or elsewhere in the world, helping to ensure wastage is kept to a minimum. Others elements though, such as your plastic casing, will be melted down and used to remould other devices in the future. It is by no means a simple process, but it is an essential one if we are to safeguard natural resources and ensure our landfills aren’t overloaded with hazardous materials that will never be broken down.

So when you buy a new multi-function printer for your home or business, always keep in mind how you will dispose of your old equipment. The days of simply throwing them in a skip or including it within your daily rubbish collection are long gone. The WEEE directive has ensured that we are all accountable for the disposal of all the electronics that we purchase, helping to ensure a planet that is free from huge piles of unwanted consumables.