It is very important to ensure that used printer inkjet cartridges are disposed of correctly. It is not acceptable to merely throw them out with everyday rubbish. Not only do they contain chemicals which are potentially harmful should they get into the ecosystem, but their plastic components are not biodegradable and will not decompose in a landfill site. Some plastics can take thousands of years to break down and the potential impact on the environment from such discarded items is huge.
Most suppliers of printer toner and associated products do include safe disposal guidelines either enclosed with the cartridge packaging or integral to it. Do take care when removing or changing toner cartridges and always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Always wear protective latex gloves when handling the cartridges as some types can be rather messy to handle. Toner powder becomes adhesive when heated so if you spill any on your clothes, never try to wash it off with warm water as this will only activate the chemical processes and cause the toner to become more stubbornly embedded in the fabric. Try to blow away the excess powder first before rinsing off the remainder using cold water.
The best solution for disposal of unwanted printer toner and inkjet cartridges is to recycle them. Most print shops offer a recycling service and will refill your empty cartridges for a fraction of the cost of new ones. If this process is carried out by someone experienced and competent the recycled cartridges are just as good as brand new ones. In this way you can not only help to save the planet, you can also save yourself some money too. Always pack the empty cartridge carefully in bubble wrap and put it back in its original box prior to transporting it to the shop. You can quite often buy 'own brand' printer cartridges from print shops which are in effect merely recycled ones which have been refilled in-house. These are usually much cheaper than the top brand names and are very often just as good, although you may find that they do not last quite as long.
In the absence of a handy local print shop, there are many on-line businesses offering the same service. Again, be sure to pack the cartridges carefully and if possible in their original box. Some companies even provide secure postage bags for you to use.
If you have no further use for the toner cartridges yourself, they can be disposed of at your local recycling centre which will have a specific container for such items.
Many businesses for which cost is not such a consideration prefer to use brand new cartridges from the manufacturer as they consider the quality of the printed documents produced to be better. In this case, the empty cartridges should be securely re-packaged in the original containers and returned to the supplier who will have procedures in place for safe disposal.
Increasingly, during the current economic downturn, many charities welcome donations of used printer cartridges as do some schools. The cartridges can either be recycled for use by the recipient or put to good use for fundraising purposes.