Just like all our other technological and electrical devices, there comes a time when we need to replace an old printer with a new one. Maybe it’s broken, maybe it keeps malfunctioning or maybe you just want an upgrade. Whatever the reason, the problem remains: how do you dispose of the old device in a responsible way?
Getting rid of old and used electrical equipment can be a real pain, whether you’re a home user or a business. Unlike, for example, old clothes or books, it’s unlikely you’ll just be able to take it down to the nearest charity shop. And what are the alternatives? It feels wrong to throw something so full of useful parts into a skip or tip, and good luck trying to sell an out of date printer online. The good news is, you actually have a few easy options available to you. So if you’d like to make sure your old printer goes to a good home (and doesn’t end up in landfill), you have come to the right place.
Take back schemes
Some of the more enlightened printer manufacturers have a ‘take back’ scheme that removes all the inconvenience and effort from recycling your printer. Simply get in touch, check you meet the criteria, and let them do the rest. Some companies will even pay you a fee for your device, or offer a part-trade on a new one, so it is definitely worth checking to see if your printer qualifies.
Xerox have a great scheme. They offer a trade in scheme for any customer buying a new printer from them. They will collect your old printer (which can be any make, model or age), and recycle it according to third-party approved regulations. The amount you’ll receive for your own printer depends on the model you’re purchasing. As an extra virtuous pat on the back, you can even donate part or all of this payment to the United Nations ‘Plant a Billion Trees’ campaign.
Dell also have an impressive take back scheme, which allows you to recycle up to two boxes of IT equipment, including printers. There are conditions about the weight of what you’re recycling so double check those. If you’re returning an old Dell printer, there is no obligation to buy your new one from them (or to make any purchase at all). As long as it is properly packaged, Dell will arrange the collection and proper recycling of your old device for free. What’s more, if you are buying your new printer from Dell, you can return devices from any brand or manufacturer and the same offer applies.
These kinds of schemes are created or improved all the time, particularly as the business world becomes more environmentally conscious and aware of their impact. If your printer manufacturer doesn’t offer a take-back scheme and you’re feeling like a bit of low-key environmental activism, you could even request that they start one or call them out on social media!
Other recycling options
Most of the other easy recycling options for you and your old printer are connected to WEEE – the EU’s Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment Regulations, which became law in the UK on the 1st of January 2014.
According to these regulations, businesses that manufacture and sell electrical and electronic equipment are obliged to collect and then recycle any used equipment they were responsible for creating from a recognised WEEE collection point – which can most often be found in recycling centres. However, although (as you’ve seen) some businesses go the extra mile for their customers, they are not required to collect waste from individual customers. If you’re a home user with a printer to recycle, your best bet (after checking for take back schemes of course) is a trip to the local recycling centre.
There are a few other options for businesses. If you’re looking for a way to dispose of old electrical equipment that doesn’t qualify for one of the above schemes, particularly if you have multiple items to move along, have a quick google for ‘WEEE disposal services’. There are plenty of companies that specialise in this service and will collect and recycle your old equipment for a competitive fee. Most of them also offer a data erasure service, which is probably a good idea if your printer has a hard drive – even if it doesn’t work anymore.
These recycling companies sort their collections according to a hierarchy of waste. Wherever possible, they will either re-use or refurbish your old printers, rather than simply recycling them as a default. It’s worth doing your research: some companies will donate any reusable equipment to charity.
Last modified: April 5, 2017