Disposing of Fixer

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by carbon_dragon, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. I have understood by reading Kodak's website that used fixer was the most
    dangerous to pour down the drain. So I've always found some processing place to
    bring it and they could dispose of it in their more environmentally sensitive
    way. I'm willing to pay to do this, but with so many film places going bankrupt,
    the last big camera store in my area died not too long ago.

    Now I'm not sure what to do with my used black and white fixer. Anyone have any
    advice on what I can do to dispose of it in a way that doesn't destroy the pipes
    or the groundwater or whatever? Thanks.

    p.s. Kind of ironic thing is that I think the toxic part is the silver. You'd
    think someone would be interested in recycling that.
  2. If you fix a lot of film paper etc and want to be conscientious, put your mny gallons (there would have to be many gallons for my conditions above to be true) in a pail and toss in some brillo pads, then give it a month to pull out the silver. Toss the brillo pads and pour the fixer down the drain mixing with copious amounts of water. I'm assuming you don't have a septic system.
  3. Although your thought are commended, I seriously doubt it can make any difference in home-scale used. It is like saying to do grocery shopping and ask for recycle paper bags instead of plastic bags. If it can make you feel better, you can have the films developed via a mail order pro-lab, which probably cost the same as you are willing to pay for additional recycling.

    If you live in the city, sewerage systems are routinely inspected. If you live outside, septic tanks can be drained every few years. Industrial pollution and oil consumption are what we should worry about.
  4. Been developing film for more than 30 years and even at newspapers we put fixer straight down the drain, along with used fixer and stop bath. If you're talking about commercial quantities -- full-time processing labs running hundreds or thousands of rolls a day and dealing with hundreds of gallons of chemicals -- it's an issue. In that case, they it's economically worthwhile to reclaim the silver and their may be state or local environmental laws to deal with. But for the home lab where you use maybe a gallon a month, it's absolutely no issue whatsoever. The alkalis in the soapy water coming out of your washing machine in the laundry room will have a bigger impact (and actually will neutralize the fixer from the darkroom).
  5. No not commercial quantities. We're talking about a quart or so every few months usually, maybe even every 6 months. I reuse the fixer till it doesn't fix properly anymore.

    But I live in an apartment complex so I don't really want to damage the apartment complex plumbing.

    If I used the pail idea, should the pail be stainless steel or plastic?
  6. Common wisdom seemt to throw fixer in bucket with steel wool (or pay money for the same thing "Kodak silver recovery cartridge" or the like), shlosh around for a few days until silver is plated onto steel wool, then dump fixer too. Plenty of info on photo.net and the web.

    You may also call your local waste authorities. Just because you're a small scale polluter in comparison does not mean you should not act responsibly.
  7. No offense intended, but if you're pouring silver sludge valued at $14/troy ounce down the drain, I think you've got some loose change buddy. Even modest amounts of fixer can have measurable amounts of silver in them.
  8. So if you sell the silver sludge to somebody, who do you sell it to, and how do you get it to them? And do you use the steel wool and bucket method of the Kodak cartridge method?
  9. I've just been searching around the web looking for people who would accept "silver sludge", or buy it, or refine it to silver and send it back to me and didn't find any.

    Mainly I just don't want to screw up the sewer, but I'd like the idea of having it refined and building up a little collection of refined silver over the years. But anybody I found was set up for industrial processes (like designing a system for big companies and their waste products).
  10. You could always give it to the local pro lab. They could add it to theirs.
  11. I used to take it to Wolf Camera on 14th street here in Atlanta, but they're gone (bought by Ritz and they're just little kiosk stores now). It seems to me that the plastic pail/steel wool is probably a better solution that trying to find a pro lab that will take it. Of course then I need a way to get rid of the silver sludge, hence my previous posts.

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