Toner bottles are a type of toner cassette — used only in larger commercial laser printers and photocopiers — that do not have any significant electronics or mechanical elements to them, and are simply plastic hoppers or tubes full of toner powder that the printer uses to top up its toner levels.
Waste toner cassettes sit in photocopiers to collect any loose toner powder that is wasted during printing.
some examples of typical toner cassette designs
Toner bottles and cassettes rarely have any electronic or mechanical components — though some may feature a very small electronic chip, and some have a cogwheel that, when turned, dispenses toner powder. This is compared to toner cartridges, which typically have more complicated mechanical elements embedded in the cartridge.
If your empty cartridges are not toner bottles, try our main empty cartridge recycling guide instead.
If you have any unused (still sealed in the never-opened original box) toner bottles, try our full cartridge guide instead.
Simple: they have no value, they are costly to handle and they should not be mixed with other items destined for reuse.
They have zero recycling value as it's cheaper to make new toner bottles from scratch (they are simply moulded plastic filled with toner) than to cover the costs of collecting empty ones, and the toner powder itself has almost zero value.
They're costly to handle and dispose of because they are highly liable to leak toner powder in transit. Toner powder itself requires specialist treatment as it is a fusion of metals and plastic, and if it gets loose and coats other items it will contaminate them. The toner itself does not have any value.
You will not find a charity collection project that will collect any toner bottles from you for free (let alone be able to donate anything for them), and you will not be allowed to include them in a collection with other toner cartridges.
However, do not bin them!
You have a clear legal and environmental obligation under the WEEE directive to ensure they are disposed of correctly, and this may mean you have to pay for a recycling service.
Don't worry — there are local and nationwide services that recycle, or better yet, reuse toner bottles, and we've put together this guide to help you find the solution for you.
Here are the best reuse and recycling options for toner bottles, which will ensure the least impact on the environment.
Some printer manufacturers offer free recycling schemes for the toner bottles that they manufactured, as a courtesy to you as their customer.
You will need to ensure you check that the service you are trying to use allows the return of toner bottles of the type you have (and not just the return of 'toner cartridges').
There are cartridge refill shops on many high streets. They may be able to refill your toner bottles very cheaply, but you should ask about your specific model.
Ask your supplier or retailer if they can take back your empties as a courtesy to you as their customer. This should be a free service as part of any managed print contract, and you may wish to make this a condition of doing future business.
If you do not qualify for any free services, or you need the convenience of a premium service, you will need to pay for a commercial service to handle these for you.
Typically this will cost about £1 per item if you manage to collect 20 of them at a time.
75% of empty cartridges in the UK are not recycled even though there are plenty of reuse and recycling options, and many of them are free and easy to use.
A typical cartridge, with its plastics and electronics, will take up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill site, but having an empty cartridge reused saves up to 2.5kg of CO2 compared to making a new cartridge from scratch.
EveryCartridge.com is here to help you to find and use the many services that exist locally and nationwide, and cut through the misinformation to ensure that your cartridges do not go to landfill.