More Home-Based Working Begs Equipment Recycling Questions

Best Buy, Staples offer free printer and cartridge recycling services



Christine Dunne


With so many people still working from home, I got to thinking about how these individuals can recycle their printers, MFPs, and cartridges. When people worked out of a corporate office, their employer theoretically took care of recycling.


But now, it’s most likely their own responsibility.


Different OEMs have different programs for recycling cartridges, along with drop-off site partnerships and mail options for returning printers. I was interested in simple solutions that don’t require significant research, costs, or effort—such as dropping off these items at a nearby big box retailer at one’s convenience, provided they aren’t too heavy.


My research indicated that Best Buy and Staples are still taking back ink/toner cartridges and print devices for free. Best Buy also accepts scanners and fax machines, while Staples takes in scanners and copiers.


Screenshot from Best Buy’s website


Office Depot/OfficeMax takes back cartridges for free, but there is a charge associated with returning printers and related peripherals ($5, $10, or $15) based on the size of the device. And the limit is the size of the largest box is 24"H x 18"W x 18"D. The sales associates I spoke with at these stores were very knowledgeable about the cartridge return programs (including any incentives and rebates their stores provide for turning in these items), but less so about their hardware recycling programs.


Target also takes back ink/toner cartridges for free (they have special recycling stations at the front of the store), but does not accept printers. Still, this is an improvement over retailers like Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s, all of which do not take back any consumables or print hardware.


Recycling bins at my local Target


People working from home should be able to easily bring their end-of-life printer and cartridges to a local Best Buy, Staples, or Office Depot/OfficeMax for responsible recycling—first ensuring no sensitive data is on/in the devices, of course. This is a great option for individuals who previously relied on their employer to handle this task. As the device becomes larger and more office-like, however, it’s important for people to double-check the item will be accepted.


We encourage these retailers to continue to promote these recycling programs as they can differentiate them in the minds of customers who increasingly care about corporate sustainability efforts. Also, anything the print industry can do to promote and facilitate cartridge and hardware reuse and recycling is welcomed.


In fact, since starting this blog post, I saw that HP is now recycling used printers that weigh less than 115 pounds for free with the purchase of a new HP printer through its HP Refresh and Recycling Program. While this initiative does require a purchase and completion of a form, it certainly gives individuals another option for turning in their devices.


In September, subscribers to our Office CompleteView and Wide Format Printing Advisory Services will have access to a new Market Insights report evaluating leading printer and MFP manufacturers for their sustainability efforts. Hungry for information now? Check out the last versions of this Market Insights piece (for North America or Western Europe) in the InfoCenter. If you’re not a subscriber, send us an email at for more info.