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Thread: Photographic chemical disposal

  1. #1

    Photographic chemical disposal

    Does anyone know anything about disposal of photographic waste (i.e.....silver in fixer) without putting it down the drain which is irresponsible and illegal? I am setting up a new darkroom after moving and wish to be environmentally responsible in my new digs.
    Thanks

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    Your question is a little too broad...

    What processes and what chemicals are you looking at disposing?

  3. #3

    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    I think that fixer is the main problem because it is not legal (federal) to put silver down the drain.

  4. #4

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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    Probably depends on the state. Oregon helps to subsidize chemical wastes for small businesses.

    Another possibility is to find a local darkroom or lab that reclaims the silver. Check to see if a school or college has a darkroom. They will likely have some way of disposing of the silver.

  5. #5

    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    Thanks, I have some college connections (Amherst, Ma), but just wanted to get as many ideas as I could before starting the involved process of making a new darkroom.

  6. #6

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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    There's a difference between illegal and irresponsible. Illegal depends on local legislation.
    Irresponsible: B&W film developer and all fixer should be disposed of in a way that ensures proper handling and if possible recycling. Stop bath is quite innocent, you can flush it down the drain. B&W paper developer is not very harmful; I flush it down the drain. I don't do color but I believe most color chemicals are pretty or even very harmful so they should be disposed of in a careful way.

  7. #7
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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron789 View Post
    There's a difference between illegal and irresponsible. Illegal depends on local legislation.
    Irresponsible: B&W film developer and all fixer should be disposed of in a way that ensures proper handling and if possible recycling. Stop bath is quite innocent, you can flush it down the drain. B&W paper developer is not very harmful; I flush it down the drain. I don't do color but I believe most color chemicals are pretty or even very harmful so they should be disposed of in a careful way.
    you are right ...
    waste management is a local thing. what might be OK to do in one town isn't the next town over. usually the threshold for silver in the waste stream is more than 5 parts/million ( federal )
    usually places suggest mixing the dev, stop fix remover together in a sink full of water to dilute it more is Ok ( it is a ph thing ) but some places don't even want people to do that.
    and some places want below 3 parts / million or even NOTHING down the drain. it all depends ...
    irresponsible... people do what they want and make up a narritive to go along with it afterwards
    ... i know of people who use KCn instead of speed fixer for collodion work and they either pour it down the drain or pour it in their back yard because they claim it is OK and that is what they were taught, oh well ...

    ===

    hi conrad

    i have been a regular contributor since 2001 ...
    i don't advertise here but feel free to contact me
    about silver recovery ... i sell "stuff" ....
    i sell affordable electrolytic stuff ( gets you down to about 50 ppm ( parts / million )
    and i also sell ionic transfer stuff ( can get you to below 1 parts / million )

    john
    Last edited by jnantz; 23-Mar-2017 at 05:11.
    enjoy your coffee

  8. #8
    Barry Kirsten's Avatar
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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    A simple way to remove silver from used fixer is to place some aluminium foil in it. The silver precipitates and can then be filtered out. In the process the aluminium is used up. Once you get enough silver it can be sold.

  9. #9

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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    . . . Another possibility is to find a local darkroom or lab that reclaims the silver. Check to see if a school or college has a darkroom. They will likely have some way of disposing of the silver.
    The point being, you might be able to work out a deal with them to take your used fixer as well. Our local Pacific University had a darkroom and was willing to take my used fixer. They in turn had a similar relationship with someone in Salem.

  10. #10

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    Re: Photographic chemical disposal

    Developers and stop baths can usually go down the drain after being diluted. Although local regulations may vary, most have a provision for low-volume users (do check though).

    The main problem is the silver in the used fixer. Some localities allow small amounts of used fixer to be disposed in the municipal sewer system. Still this is not optimal. The best solution is to find somehow to recover the silver first. In my case, I take my fixer to a local photofinisher for silver recovery. They're happy to get it since they get to keep the profits from the recovered silver. As mentioned, university photo departments might also have silver-recovery services they would be happy to share.

    In lieu of this, I would resort to some method of removing silver myself (steel wool, or jnanian's silver recovery system). My experiences with the HazMat people when taking used fixer to them were unsatisfying and, frankly, ridiculous. They put on isolation suits and labeled my used fixer for incineration (wow, that's really good for the environment...). They had absolutely no idea of silver recovery. They were shocked when I told them I actually put my hands into it...

    FWIW, Kodak's publication on chemical disposal is here: http://www.kodak.com/eknec/documents...05/J300ENG.pdf

    Best,

    Doremus

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