An ink cartridge is a replaceable component of an ink jet printer. It contains liquid ink which consists of various pigments or colours for the coloration of a surface to create images and texts. Some ink cartridge manufacturers also add electronic contacts and a chip that communicates with the printer.
Toner cartridges contain fine dry ink (toner) particles, normally black coloured, which adheres to the paper electrostatically and is fixed by heating.
Beside toner particles, toner material contains very small amounts of potentially toxic compounds. Among them are Volatile Organic Hydrocarbons (‘Volatile Organic Compounds’, VOC), such as Styrol, Toluol, Ethylbenzol, Xylols, Phenols, Aldehyds and Ketons as well as various carbonic acids. In exceptional cases also carcinogen Benzol has been found in toner material.
Fluid and pasty toners can contain solvents declared as hazardous waste. Moreover colouring toners can contain heavy metals. Black powder toners normally don’t contain toxic components.
Toner and ink cartridges of different sizes are found in photocopiers, fax machines or printers.
Caution during dismantling
Toner and ink cartridges must be manually separated from the rest of the printer by all means. Otherwise hazardous substances contained in the toner material would be released during possible further mechanical treatment and seriously pollute recycling material.
Requirements for storage and transport
Toner cartridges should be collected and stored in a way that prevents the release of any toner material.
Different toner and ink cartridges should be captured separately. Otherwise the quality of the collected material is degraded.
As far as possible toner cartridges should be refilled and reused.
Toner cartridges filled with black powder can be emptied. The emptied plastic cartridges can be supplied to plastic recycling.
Toner cartridges containing fluid or pasty toners, colouring toners or toners of which the substances of content are unknown, should be disposed as hazardous waste.
Source of information
Dismantling Guide for IT Equipment, which was elaborated within the SRI project and financially supported by SECO and UNIDO, June 2015