The recycling of printer toners: with CAMEC special waste becomes secondary raw materials
The photocopiers and laser printers we use every day at home or in the office work by using toner powder, a polymer made up of carbon and resin particles and iron oxides. This extremely fine powder is applied to the sheet to be printed through a drum and a heater that fixes the pigment to the paper, and is normally contained within a plastic cartridge that is completely disposed of when the powder runs out.
The disposal of used toner cartridges is a complex process that requires the use of suitable machinery: toner powder, in fact, is potentially polluting and is not recyclable, so it must be recovered and treated in special certified plants. For this reason, toner cartridges are classified as special waste and cannot be disposed of as solid urban waste: the d. Lgs 152/2006 regulates the treatment of this particular type of waste and establishes that all used toner cartridges must be delivered to authorized operators who can proceed with their regeneration or, if this is not possible, their disposal and the recovery of raw materials that compose them.
How to recycle printer toner cartridges
Waste toners require a special treatment that allows not to disperse the residual toner powder and to differentiate all the materials that make up the external cartridge, in view of their recovery as secondary raw materials (MPS).
The toner cartridge, in fact, is mainly composed of plastic material, but inside there are also other potentially recoverable and reusable materials, such as:
The recycling procedure therefore requires the toners to be ground until they are reduced to a small and uniform size, in order to make possible to proceed with the separation of the plastic, iron and non-ferrous materials. In addition, the presence of a dust extractor must be provided, which allows to recover the residual toner and not waste it in the environment.
CAMEC solutions for the treatment of toner cartridges
CAMEC designs and implements systems specifically dedicated to the treatment of exhausted toner cartridges and the recovery of the materials that compose them. CAMEC’s toner treatment plants – born as an evolution of the plants dedicated to the recycling of tanks and car bumpers – are designed to separate the plastics that make up the casings and recover the toner powder, which is sucked up with special Atex class systems and intended for reuse.
The grinding of the cartridges is carried out with a TR4A four-shaft shredder that grinds the waste reducing it to a size of less than 40 mm. In this way the shredded material is ready to be sent to the subsequent processing phases, which involve the separation of powder, plastic and ferrous and non-ferrous components, which can in this way be recovered as secondary raw materials.