How To Dispose of Toner Cartridges

by whatsmind

Did you know that the Energy Collective Group found that one million ink cartridges are thrown out every day? Huge waste numbers aside, there’s a bigger issue at play here.

Many people don’t realize that throwing out the printer and toner cartridges not only damages the environment but also their working conditions. That’s why we made this article on toner cartridge disposal tips.

In it, we’ll walk you through how to dispose of toner cartridges the proper way. That way, you can get back to printing while making the world a cleaner, better place to live. Let’s get started!

Why Is It Important to Properly Dispose of Toner Cartridges?

Before we dive into the HOW in terms of disposing of toner cartridges, it’s important to first cover the WHY. After all, what’s the problem with just tossing your toner cartridges in the office trash can?

Let’s first go over the health reasons why you should think twice about this. First, ink toner powder, when released into the air, is a known irritant. Specifically, it can exacerbate respiratorily allergies and bronchitis.

If touched it can also potentially damage the skin, eyes, and lungs. Worse of all prolonged exposure to the impurities found in toner powder has been known to cause cancer.

So, properly disposing of your toner cartridges helps show that you prioritize the health and safety of everyone working in your office. However, there’s also the environmental aspect to consider.

Toner and ink cartridges contain a variety of volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. Here are just some of the chemicals you can find in an average toner cartridge:

  • Butyl urea
  • Cyclohexanone
  • Red 23 dye
  • Acid yellow 23 dye
  • Direct blue 199 dye
  • Ethoxylated acetylenic diols
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (or EDTA)

When we throw away our toner cartridges into the landfill the contaminants found in them don’t stay magically contained.

Instead, they seep into our soil and groundwater, which eventually leads to the ocean. It’s poisoning the earth. And, that’s not even counting the resources that are required to make them.

Each new cartridge requires roughly three quarts of oil to make. There’s also the plastic that’s used in the cartridge itself.

This material will sit in a landfill for a thousand years before it fully breaks down. This is why it’s so important to recycle your toner cartridges when you can.

The different States Have Different Laws About Toner Cartridge Disposal

In some cases, it might not just be morally wrong to throw away your toner cartridges, but also illegal. Because of the significant impact that toner cartridges have on the environment, many city landfills have banned them.

As such, you should make sure to check the local laws in your state or city before you toss them out. If you get caught, then you will face a significant fine.

Assuming the cartridges are illegal in your city, then you cannot just throw them out in the trash. Instead, you will need to recycle them using one of the methods we’ll go over below.

Way to Recycle Toner Cartridges

If you’re worried about the environmental impact that toner cartridge disposal has, then you’re not alone. The good news is that many cartridge companies have responded by only making their products out of recycled plastic.

You can help support these companies by recycling your printer cartridges once you’re done with them.

There are multiple ways to recycle these tiny things. Just choose whichever one is most convenient for you depending on where you live.


It makes sense that most toner cartridge manufacturers would be eager to get their used cartridges back. After all, it saves them money in the long run in terms of raw resources used.

Because of this, almost all manufacturers accept their brand of cartridges at no cost to you. Some manufacturers will accept cartridges from other brands.

The easiest way to get started is to Google the following, “[manufacturer name] toner cartridge recycling program”. In some cases, you won’t even need to look them up.

Some businesses will sell their product with a return envelope for you to send back. From there just follow the instructions for sending off your used products to the company.

Recycling Center

Don’t feel like sending something through the mail? One place you can do this is your local recycling facility.

These are facilities that accept all types of plastic products for recycling, including toner cartridges. In addition, they typically also accept similar materials that are hard to get rid of, like batteries, metal, and cardboard.

These facilities tend to be pretty common, so Goggle any local ones that might be near you.

School or University

Both schools and universities tend to go through massive amounts of toner cartridges and ink. It’s not hard to see why with all the paper they print out.

Some states will incentivize these educational institutes to recycle by offering them cash for their cartridges. Some even have the facilities to re-use them without any help.

Because of this, you should consider calling your local educational institute to see if they accept used toner cartridges. This can be a convenient option if you’re a student, or you live right near a school.

Office Supply Stores

Office supply stores aren’t as popular as they used to be. But, if there’s one near you, then you should consider visiting. This is one of the few options that incentivize you for recycling toner cartridges.

Businesses like Staples, Office Max and Office Depot will pay you $2 or more for each toner cartridge you bring to them. That way, you’re both helping the environment and making a quick buck.

How to Handle Toner Cartridges

When removing toner cartridges the first thing you should do is wear protective gloves. That way, none of the harmful chemicals get on your skin. When removing the cartridge make sure you treat it carefully.

Otherwise, you could disturb the powder. Remember that this can be dangerous when inhaled. So, if you’re worried, then consider wearing a mask while you handle it.

Finally, put the toner cartridge in either the box that it came with or a similar airtight container. Now it’s ready to be recycled!

Throwing Toner Cartridges Should Be a Last Resort

As we mentioned before, there’s a reason why the EPA has special guidelines for disposing of toner cartridges. However, sometimes recycling these cartridges might not be feasible or convenient.

In these scenarios, you should avoid throwing your cartridge directly into the garbage. Doing so can put people at risk. Specifically, cleaning staff and garbage haulers that deal with your mess.

So, make things safe for them by putting the spent cartridge in the original box or a similar container. Double bag the box to make sure that there’s no chance of leaking.

And, if you know the cleaning staff is coming, then consider leaving a note. That way, they know that they should handle the bag with care.

Also, remember to check the state laws to make sure that it’s legal to throw out toner cartridges. Otherwise, you could be facing legal trouble. 

Buy Toner Cartridges From a Company That Recycles

Remember that money often speaks louder than words. That means that you can make a difference just by shopping at places that prioritize toner cartridge recycling efforts.

Think about it. If all the major companies realized that no one’s buying their non-recycled products, then they’ll make a change.

There are plenty of real-world examples of this. Just take PremiumToners for example. Their customer continues to ask them for a greener solution to the oner cartridge problem.

In response, they changed their model to make sure their cartridges are made out of 100% recycled plastic.

So, use your dollar to insight change. And give feedback to the companies you shop from. If they care about their customers and the environment, then they’ll make the change.

Appreciate Learning How to Dispose of Toner Cartridges? Keep Reading

We hope this article helped you learn how to dispose of toner cartridges. Getting rid of these cartridges can feel a lot like throwing away batteries. You know throwing them in the trash is wrong.

But, because the proper disposal method varies from place to place, finding an alternative can be difficult. That’s why we recommend finding a way that works best for where you live and sticking with it.

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