The ink and toner that is used in cartridges are carcinogenic, and as such they are considered to be hazardous materials. On top of that, the cartridge itself may be made from dioxins, which is also harmful to humans.

It is therefore very important that ink cartridges, and toner cartridges, are disposed of in a responsible manner – to minimise their risk to people, animals and the environment.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that around 90% of ink cartridges in the UK are disposed of with the rest of household waste.

How should you dispose of ink cartridges?

Over 20 million homes in the UK have a printer, and many more businesses on top of that. As a society, it is our responsibility to ensure that the huge number of cartridges that we use are disposed of responsibly – so how should we do it?

There are a few options:

  • Get them refilled: There are many places that would be happy to refill your ink cartridges for you. Not only is this much better for the environment, it also means you are only paying for the ink so it could work out much better for you financially.
  • Refill them yourself: Depending on what cartridges, you may be able to refill your old cartridges yourself. There are many sites on the internet that can walk you through the process.
  • Take them to your local recycling centre: While printer cartridges aren’t eligible for domestic recycling collection, most recycling centres will have an area specifically for printer cartridges, and they will take them for you.
  • Sign up to a charity recycling service: Many charities are now offering a service whereby you send them your old cartridges, usually for free, and they will take the recycling from there. They earn a little money from doing it, but it doesn’t cost you anything.
  • Sell them yourself: There are plenty of companies that will pay for your old cartridges so that they can reuse them. For people that get through a lot of cartridges, this may be an attractive option.

What risks do printer cartridges pose?

While printer cartridges are generally considered safe to handle and be around, there are occasions when they can pose a direct risk to humans. These include:

Toner cartridges: The toner is made from carbon black, a potentially carcinogenic material that is made from the incomplete combustion of petroleum products. This means that extended exposure to it could cause cancer, and even short-term exposure could cause respiratory discomfort and irritation.

Laser cartridges: Printing with lasers causes ultrafine particles to be released into the air. Again, if you are exposed to these for long-periods of time it can cause a whole host of respiratory ailments.

Ink cartridges: While liquid ink isn’t dangerous in small quantities, if it is ever ingested or gets on the skin, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms.

What to do with lots of hazardous waste

If you find yourself with a lot of hazardous waste that you need to remove, don’t take any chances with it and call in the experts.

At Ideal Response we will be able to completely clear the waste away and decontaminate the area so that you can rest assured that there are no lasting issues. We can be onsite within 24 hours of your call, so don’t delay and get in touch with us.

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