Photochemicals and Containers
Manage your photochemicals and containers in a safe, environmentally sound, and cost effective manner.
Disposition of unused and/or spent photochemicals varies by jurisdiction and should be managed according to local regulations. Options may include silver recovery, haul-away, or discharges to suitable municipal treatment systems. Ensure that photochemicals are disposed of according to local requirements.
You can help minimize solid waste by recycling empty plastic or glass containers in your local recycling program.
Returnable Drums (US only)
You can help minimize solid waste by participating in the KODAK Returnable Drum Program. This program offers a simple, convenient way to recycle chemical drums used in the photofinishing process.
(For guidance outside of the US, check with your local authorities for specifics.)
Septic System Disposal
Kodak Alaris does not recommend the use of septic systems for disposal of photographic processing chemicals because the disposal of photographic processing solutions may affect the proper operations of the septic system.
Discharge from septic tank systems may adversely affect sources of underground drinking water. Federal, country, state, and local governments establish standards to minimize potential impact on underground drinking water. Contact your local authorities to determine if the discharge of photoprocessing effluents into your septic system is allowable.
Other disposal options for your photoprocessing waste include household hazardous waste collection facilities in your area, discharge to a nearby municipal wastewater treatment plant, or a licensed chemical hauler. Again, check with your local authorities for permissible options in your area.
Sewer / Biological Treatment Systems
Most photographic processing effluents and wash waters contain chemicals that are biodegradable. They may be compatible with biological treatment systems when sent to an efficient sewage treatment facility. Permission from the local treatment authority may be needed (a written consent or permit is usually needed and limits what can and can't be discharge). Contact your local authorities to see if you need consent and to determine local discharge limits.
On-Site Silver Recovery
There are a variety of on-site silver recovery technologies available. Understanding the size of your operation, amount of effluent, and the silver discharge limit in your local area, will help you to determine the correct technology for your operation.
For small volume users, silver recovery using metallic replacement is recommended. These cartridges are simple to use and maintain. Used cartridges must be sent to a silver refiner for further treatment and recovery of metallic silver.
Electrolytic silver recovery is the most efficient technique for removing silver from silver-rich photographic solutions. The type of electrolytic recovery unit chosen depends on the solutions being treated and the daily volumes requiring treatment. Often, metallic replacement cartridges need to be used tailing electrolytic recovery equipment to ensure compliance with local sewer discharge limits. These units are more costly than simple metallic replacement cartridges and rather more complex to set up and operate effectively.
The removal of silver from wash waters requires still more sophisticated technology such as ion exchange, nanofiltration or reverse osmosis. These techniques are usually only justified in order to meet strict local regulations.
The chemical precipitation technique produces very low silver concentrations in the effluent going to the sewer. Semi-automatic and customized equipment for automated precipitation are used to facilitate the process.
Whatever the technique used for silver recovery, it can provide an economic benefit and enable compliance with local discharge regulations. If on-site silver recovery is not done, the owner/operator must send silver-rich solutions off site for proper management.
Off-Site Silver Recovery
Silver is a valuable resource, and can easily and cost-effectively be recovered and reused. If you are discharging silver bearing waste solutions (fixer, bleach-fix, and stabilizers or wash waters) to the sewer for biological treatment, you will almost certainly have to recover silver to keep within the discharge limits imposed by your local authority.
If the size of your photoprocessing operation makes on-site recovery impractical, then silver-containing solutions can be collected and shipped to an off-site recovery facility. There are many waste management companies that specialize in silver recovery. You will be responsible for collecting and storing the waste safely, and for telling the waste management company about its hazards (if any) so that they can transport and treat it safely.
Silver Management Information