Laws and regulations exist in every country. But what are the legal differences in handling used toner cartridges between Germany and Ghana? Here are three exciting facts:
1) Are toner cartridges legally considered hazardous waste?
In Germany, toner cartridges can be classified as hazardous waste under the Waste Catalogue Ordinance, and there is a mirror entry here. These can be found under the numbers
08 03 17* and 08 03 18. Whether cartridges are considered hazardous or non-hazardous depends on their contents. In Ghana, all spent toner cartridges count as hazardous waste due to the toner residue and microplastics.
2) Do manufacturers bear responsibility for the disposal of their products?
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a concept that requires manufacturers and distributors of products and packaging to take care of the take-back, transport and disposal or recycling of their products. In Germany, the EPR applies to waste electrical equipment, batteries and packaging. In Ghana, there is no take-back system for used or discarded electrical equipment, although a law requires manufacturers, distributors or wholesalers to take back the equipment they produce or sell for recycling. There is currently only one EPR policy for beverage and plastic packaging manufacturers.
3) What happens to the empty toner cartridges?
Many toner cartridges in Germany are still disposed of in the residual waste: The manufacturers have take-back systems, recycling centers accept the cartridges or companies collect them for refurbishing. This is done under corresponding laws and regulations. There are therefore several options for disposing of toner cartridges in a more environmentally sound way than with household waste. In Ghana, there is no set framework (yet) for the area of discarded toner cartridges. Anyone interested in taking back or collecting toner cartridges must design their own take-back system and apply for its approval. There are also currently no regulations governing the refilling or disposal of toner cartridges. However, the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently developing a framework for a take-back system for electrical and electronic waste that could also include toner cartridges.
A global circular economy is a goal we should all strive for. It means using our resources efficiently and reducing waste by reusing, repairing, and recylcing products. There is still a lot of work to be done. 💪🌍♻️