Look at the printer itself for its green design features. Recycleable designs may include use of post consumer waste materials, easily dismantled parts, minimal coatings and labeled parts. A printer’s useable life expectancy and its manufacturer’s commitment to maintaining a supply of replacement parts are considerations in keeping retired printers out of the landfills. In contrasting thermal printing vs laser printing, discarded thermal printers are much smaller in size than most laser printers.
Some printers provide automatic double-sided printing, which saves paper. Paper that has been laser printed can be recycled. Many offices provide bins near the printers to recycling prints which were made in error. Laser printers, able to print onto a variety of paper types, can use recycled paper.
Thermal printers must use special sensitized paper to create a thermal image. Thermal paper cannot be recycled. Because paper receipts are often tossed into paper recycling bins, the thermal paper they are printed on becomes a contaminant, making brown spots on the remanufactured paper.
Consumable parts for laser printers - such as toner cartridges, imaging drums, belts and fusers - are greener as single components. Some manufacturers group toner cartridges together with drums. Then both must be replaced, even if only one part is depleted. Toner cartridges can be refilled or purchased as remanufactured.