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Thread: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

  1. #1

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    Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    I'm wondering if B&W Silver Gelatin paper can go into the recycle bin. I worry that the silver could be a problem, or any chemistry left in unwashed test prints. What about RC paper? Does the plastic coating (or whatever it is) cause a problem? Any real information would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Chuck

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...o-paper.24756/

    found by googling your exact subject words

    Read all the replies
    sin eater

  3. #3

    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    Silver is not all that poisonous. After all, it used to be used in our coins and it is used in tea and coffee sets as well as in tableware. The salts in photographic materials are so insoluable that they are almost totally harmless as well.

    Powdered silver and silver salts have served as antisceptics in some cases.

    Direct injestion of a soluable silver salt will burn you more than poison you outright, but it can act as a poison in high enough concentration.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the occasional sheet of photo paper or even a roll of film.

  4. #4
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    Quote Originally Posted by chuck461 View Post
    I'm wondering if B&W Silver Gelatin paper can go into the recycle bin.
    The short answer is no.

    The long answer is that the point of recycling is to create a new paper base that can be used to make more products. Mixing all kinds of papers together into a batch makes the batch susceptible to contamination. IOW, it's a lowest common denominator kind of thing.

    So here's your question asked another way: Can that silver, development byproducts and trace chemicals, coatings, etc. keep the rest of the paper in the recycling bin from being acceptable for the making of new products? IOW, will the resulting product be safe for it's intended use? Would society be OK with making, say, cardboard boxes and separators for apples from this? Would it be safe? And therein lies the problem -- "would it be safe?" requires a reasonable amount of testing to find out, which raises the cost of the recycled product above the cost of just making new cardboard. And this is why recycling so often fails.

    My wife served for a time on the Environmental Advisory Board for the local city council. She took the recycling training, among others. What she found was, the recyclers would pull your paper (and a lot of others) out of the recycling stream and throw it in the landfill. If they saw it. But they won't see it all. And if it gets through and contaminates an entire batch, the entire batch of paper ends up in the landfill. Which makes recycling worse than making new.

    And this, people, is why recycling is so difficult and so expensive. Recycling doesn't work well because it's too difficult for ordinary people like us to know what can be, and can not be, recycled. So in the end it comes down to "when in doubt, throw it out".

    Yeah, I know. I wish I was kidding. But I'm not.

    EDIT: All that said, recycling is still well worth doing, and the OP should be commended for wanting to do the right thing. And to do the right thing, make sure you contact your local recycling program and find out for sure what they want you to recycle, and recycle only that.
    Last edited by Bruce Watson; 27-Nov-2019 at 12:11.

    Bruce Watson

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    We need to make producers and packagers that sell us non recyclables responsible for the entire cycle, creation to grave as it were.

    Not happening during my remaining time in the garden of eden.

    Cash is King, long live the King!
    sin eater

  6. #6
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    Many years ago, I met a photographer who had an interesting way of recycling old, out-of-date fiber based paper.

    He fixed it out, washed and dried it. Then, he dry-mounted fiber based prints to the back of the paper This stiffened the prints without adding significant weight. And as FB paper tends to curl toward the emulsion side, the fact that the print was mounted to the back of the waste paper meant that the natural curls were opposing, causing the print to remain flat. In essence, he used the paper as light-weight mounting boards.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    A recycling company use to pay us 10 cents a pound for old photopaper (reject prints, etc from the university darkroom)...I believe they burnt it and recovered the silver.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Recycling Silver Gelatin Paper

    I read some time ago that people were paid per SG glass plate, to remove and clean off the emulsion to reuse the plate.

    I wonder if the silver was also recycled.
    sin eater

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