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Frequently Asked Questions

Waste Management

  1. How do I dispose of photographic processing effluents?
    Most photographic processing effluents and washwaters contain chemicals that are biodegradable. They are, therefore, compatible with aerobic (with oxygen) biological treatment systems and are effectively treated when discharged to municipal sewer systems such as Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs). Septic systems operate with anaerobic (without oxygen) biological treatment. Therefore, septic systems do not have the ability to properly treat photographic processing effluents.

    Septic Systems

    If you are discharging to a septic system, Kodak recommends you manage your photographic processing effluents off-site. For additional information, refer to Information on Septic System Disposal.

    Sewer Systems

    Your local municipality establishes sewer codes or sewer discharge limits for commonly discharged materials. Limits are generally placed on parameters such as pH, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Ammonia as Nitrogen, Total Suspended Solids (TSS), and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). If you are discharging to the local sewer system, you should obtain and review the discharge requirements for your area and determine whether your photographic processing effluent can meet those limits established by your local municipality. For additional information on how to determine your local sewer codes, refer to our frequently asked question on local sewer codes and requirements.

    Kodak strongly recommends that you never pour silver-bearing effluents such as used fixers, bleach-fix, or stabilizers down the drain. Rather, you should use on-site or off-site silver-recovery methods for these solutions.

    On-Site Silver Recovery

    Waste silver-bearing solutions are hazardous wastes when discarded, and would most likely exceed discharge limits for silver. Efficient on-site silver recovery may make it possible to discharge effluent to most local POTW facilities. Information on on-site silver recovery options is available in our publication, J-215, Recovering Silver from Photographic Processing Solutions.

    Off-Site Silver Management

    Kodak has established a program designed specifically for Kodak customers who need off-site options for their solutions. For additional information, refer to our frequently asked question on the KODAK RELAY Program.

  2. Can I dispose of photographic processing solutions to my septic system?
    Kodak does not recommend the use of septic systems for disposal of photographic processing solutions because the disposal of photographic processing solutions may affect the proper operations of the septic system. Septic systems are used for the disposal of domestic waste, primarily in areas where municipal sewers are unavailable. Refer to Information on Septic System Disposal for more details.

    Professional Photographers

    Information on alternative waste management options for professional photographers is available through our KODAK RELAY Program.

    Amateur Photographers

    Information on alternative waste management options for amateur photographers is available in our publication, J-300, Environmental Guidelines for Amateur Photographers.

  3. What is Silver Recovery, and is it necessary for me?
    If you use photographic processing chemistry for film and paper development, the processes result in the accumulation of silver in the fixer, bleach-fix, and stabilizer or wash waters. These photographic processing effluents exceed local sewer discharge limits for silver and should be treated by on-site silver recovery, or managed off site.

    Silver recovery is the process used to harvest the silver from the photographic processing solutions and can be done in several ways, depending on the size of your operation, the concentration of silver in your effluent, and the silver discharge limits for your local Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). The silver recovery process promotes the sustainability of a non-renewable natural resource, facilitates the economics of the laboratory, as well as keeps the laboratory in compliance with discharge regulations.

    Silver Recovery Using Chemical Recovery Cartridges

    For small volume users, we recommend silver recovery using metallic or chemical recovery cartridges (CRC). The Kodak Chemical Recovery Cartridge, Junior Model II is one type of CRC and is used for the removal of silver from fixer and bleach-fix solutions.

    Silver Recovery Using Electrolytic Cells

    Electrolytic silver recovery utilizes fixed cathode, rotating cathode, or in-line recirculation electrolytic cell, and is the most efficient technique for removing silver from silver-rich photographic solutions. The type of electrolytic recovery unit used depends on the solutions being treated and the daily volumes requiring treatment. For example, large quantities of bleach-fix, low-flow wash following bleach-fix tanks, or E-6 fixer solutions are treated most efficiently with a rotating cathode unit. Often, CRCs need to be used tailing electrolytic recovery equipment to ensure compliance with local sewer discharge limits.

    Silver Recovery Using Chemical Precipitation Techniques

    The chemical precipitation technique is a technique developed by Kodak and can be used to produce very low silver concentrations in the effluent going to the sewer. Semi-automatic and customized equipment for automated precipitation have been introduced, first by Kodak, and then by several manufacturers, 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. See our Frequently Asked Question on the Kodak Rely Program.

    See our publication J-212, Technology of Silver Recovery for Photographic Processing Facilities, publication J-215, Recovering Silver from Photographic Processing Solutions, and publication J-300, Environmental Guidelines for Amateur Photographers for more information on silver recovery and its applicability to your operation.

  4. What do I do with my recovered silver?
    Regardless of the technique your photographic processing facility uses to remove silver from photographic processing solutions, you need to send the silver-bearing materials to a refiner to complete the recovery process.

    List of Silver Refiners

    A Silver Refiners List is available for download.

    Note: This list has been compiled from various sources. Inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement or recommendation by Eastman Kodak Company.

  5. How do I measure the silver content of my effluent being discharged to the POTW after silver recovery?
    A number of techniques are available to measure silver in photographic processing effluent, but only precise analytical results from a certified analytical laboratory, with personnel trained to perform silver analysis, should be used to demonstrate regulatory compliance. All samples should be collected in clean, unused containers, properly labeled, and sent immediately to the chosen laboratory. You may need to request analyses for Total Recoverable Silver or Total Dissolved Silver, depending on the requirements of your local discharge regulation.

    Please refer to our publication J-211, Measuring Silver in Photographic Processing Facilities for more information on how to collect samples, how to select an analytical laboratory, and the qualitative and quantitative test that can be used for photoprocessing solution analysis.

  6. What is the Code of Management Practice and how is it used?
    The Code of Management Practice for managing silver is a set of recommendations on technology, equipment, and procedures for controlling silver discharges, all aimed at pollution prevention. These recommendations were developed in collaboration with the Silver Council and the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA). The purpose of the Code is to develop consensus among local municipalities and silver dischargers at photoprocessing facilities and to reduce regulatory burdens and costs for municipalities and small businesses.

    The Code of Management Practice involves the use of recovery and equipment options best suited to your facility, a monitoring protocol, process control, chemical inventory, and spill containment and response procedures which can be easily tracked and evaluated for effectiveness.

    For more information, please refer to our publication J-217, Using the Code of Management Practice to Manage Silver in Photographic Processing Facilities .

  7. What can I do with old film?
    The majority of Kodak films and papers are not considered hazardous wastes based on Federal regulations and can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill. This does not preempt state or local laws and programs. Contact your state and local governments to determine if any additional disposal requirements apply.

    In a few cases, Kodak specialty films used in aerial photography, industrial X-ray and microscopy, and nitrate-based films may have additional disposal requirements. Please contact Kodak Environmental Services for additional information on the disposal of these films.

    Recycling Options

    Even though most Kodak films can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill, your business may want to consider a more environmentally sound option. For a directory of film buyers who may be able to refine or recycle film, please contact Kodak Environmental Services.

    Note: This list has been compiled from various sources. Inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement or recommendation by Eastman Kodak Company.

    TCLP

    Representative Kodak photographic films and papers, both processed and unprocessed, were tested using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). These representative samples did not exhibit the Toxicity Characteristic (TC) of hazardous materials. In addition, these photographic films and papers do not exhibit the other hazardous waste characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity as outlined in 40 CFR Part 261.

  8. How do I dispose of the waste film I generate?
    Photographic film waste may be generated from developed negatives, from test strips or leader film, or from process or inventory problems. Polyester film, typically used for medical and industrial x-ray and aerial films, silver-halide graphic-arts film, and long roll professional imaging products may be returned to Kodak for film-base recovery and silver recovery. The lower limit for such a return is 40,000 pounds. Both polyester and cellulose triacetate films are used in the motion picture industry currently. FPC Inc., a Kodak company, is equipped to handle waste motion picture films. For their services, you may call FPC at 1-323-468-5774 . Thermal Imaging films such as recording films, duplicating films and thermal ribbons are not yet a part of any recycling program. However, they may be incinerated for energy recovery.

  9. What can I do with all of the non-chemical waste I generate at my facility?
    Consider minimizing the amount of waste your business generates. You may do this by first assessing your waste streams using the Facility Solid Waste Assessment Tool described in our publication J-410, An Introduction to Waste Management Options for Photographic Processing Facilities. In addition, our publication J-412, Waste Prevention and Recycling for Photoprocessing Facilities, addresses the non-hazardous wastes your facility may generate and walks through the options to minimize, reuse, recycle, or dispose of the waste.

    Conserving resources and reducing wastes can have a beneficial impact on your operating costs as well as the environment. Much of the film, steel, plastic and paper waste generated can be recovered, processed, and remade into new products. Kodak has established several recycling and take-back programs for Kodak products which may not be included in your local community recycling programs. These programs are outlined in our publication J-412.

  10. How can I dispose of my waste batteries?
    Alkaline Batteries

    A regional or national battery recycling program is not yet available for alkaline batteries. A few companies may accept alkaline batteries for recovery and disposal, and a call to the Dry Battery Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (1-703-413-3200) will get you a list of these companies. Kodak's alkaline batteries have been manufactured free of mercury since 1992, and so they are not hazardous wastes when discarded. Therefore, they may be disposed of through your municipal waste disposal program.

    Lithium and Nickel Hydride Batteries

    Lithium and nickel metal hydride batteries are generally not regulated by federal or state law. The exception is the state of California, which requires commercial and business operations to handle nickel metal hydride batteries being disposed of as hazardous waste, if not being recycled. Under all other circumstances, these batteries may be accepted in local municipal waste programs, or recycling programs, if they exist.

    Nickel Cadmium and Silver Oxide Batteries

    Nickel cadmium and silver oxide batteries are regulated by the USEPA as hazardous wastes when disposed of. They may be removed off site to a hazardous waste facility through contract with a battery recycler. Nickel cadmium batteries may be recycled through the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), an organization of which Kodak is a member. The designated RBRC battery collection point nearest you may be reached by calling 1-800-8-Battery .

    See our publication J-411, Dealing with Hazardous Waste and Processing Effluents at Photographic Processing Facilities and publication J-412, Waste Prevention and Recycling for Photographic Processing Facilities for more information. You may also phone the Kodak Information Center at 1-800-242-2424 or visit www.kodak.com/go/batteries for more information.

  11. What can you tell me about the toxicity characteristics of KODAK Photographic Films and Papers?
    Representative Kodak photographic films and papers, both processed and unprocessed, were tested using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). These representative samples did not exhibit the Toxicity Characteristic (TC). In addition, these photographic films and papers do not exhibit the other hazardous waste characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity.

    In a few cases, Kodak specialty films used in aerial photography, industrial X-ray, microscopy, and nitrate-based films may have additional disposal requirements. Please call Kodak Environmental Services at (585) 477-3194 for additional information on the disposal of these films.

    As a result, most Kodak films and papers are not considered hazardous wastes based on Federal regulations and can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill. This conclusion, however, does not preempt state or local laws and programs. Contact your state and local governments to determine if any additional disposal requirements apply.

    Even though most Kodak films can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill, your business may want to consider a more environmentally sound option. Contact Kodak Environmental Services for information on photographic film reclamation and recycling options, including programs available through Kodak and/or a directory of scrap film buyers and refiners.

  12. My plumber recommends the use of Limestone pits or Neutralization tanks. Do I need one?
    We are often asked about the need to discharge photoprocessing wastes to "limestone pits" or neutralization tanks before sending to a sewer. These devices may be required by local plumbing or sewer discharge codes in an attempt to protect the waste systems from acidic chemicals.

    In the case of photoprocessing effluent for Kodak's processing chemicals, not only is the neutralization function unnecessary, the limestone pit or neutralization tank often becomes fouled, and eventually a maintenance problem.

    Photoprocessing effluent from Kodak's processing chemicals contains an alkaline developer, with a pH about 10.0, and an acidic fixer, with a pH about 4.3. These are discharged roughly in a 2 to 1 relationship along with considerable wash water (1/2 to 3 gallons per minute). The temperature is in the 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit range, and the effluent pH ranges from 6.5 to 9.

    In addition to dissolved chemical salts there is usually a small amount of gelatine present. This combination results in a nutrient-rich effluent in which bacteria flourish. This will foul the limestone media, and in effect, the limestone pit becomes a mini-waste treatment plant. This can produce odors and will eventually require maintenance and cleaning.

    Because the total effluent pH is well within sewer codes we question the need and strongly recommend against the use of these treatment methods for photographic effluent.

    If you have additional questions or require further assistance, please contact Kodak Environmental Services.

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Frequently Asked Questions provide information of limited or specific application. Responsibility for judging the applicability of the information for a specific use rests with the end user.

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