How to dispose of exhausted C-41 chems?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Dr.Pain-MD, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Hey all, my first C-41 kit is nearing the end of its usefulness and I'll need to dispose of the chemicals soon, that includes the developer, blix and stabilizer. My photo club has jugs for recycling b&w developer and fixer, but I don't know if I should just dump my C-41 stuff in there or somewhere else. What do you folks do?
     
  2. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    Your fixer can definitely go into the club jug, and likely the developer as well. I believe that blix can be put there as well because it contains Fe-EDTA bleach that is not particularly toxic. The stop can go down the drain and straight bleach disposal goes according to manufacturer's directions. I believe Kodak states that Fe-EDTA bleach can go into the waste stream, but perhaps PE can give better advice on that. Mainly you want to avoid putting silver into a waste stream, and C-41 fixer or blix contains far less metal than b&w chemistry. The organics in developers oxidize well in waste stream processing. If you are using current chemistry your stabilizer does not contain formalin and can go into the waste stream as well because it is only a wetting agent.

    If you happen to be on a septic system, then you should look more carefully at the volumes you are disposing as you don't want to disturb the flora and fauna in your waste tank. If in doubt, then take spent chemistry to an environmental disposal facility. In my county (US/New Mexico) the environmental facility (a.k.a. the dump) accepts chemical, electronic, and appliance waste for recycling. Chemicals, paint, solvents, etc. must/should be labeled to save the expense of testing. Here there is no charge for residential customers.
     
  3. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    I forgot to say that my kit was a Unicolor kit. I very well may be wrong, but I think that the stabilizer does have formaldehyde. I only have 1L of each chemical, so it's not all that much. I might be OK dumping some of them down the drain then? Interesting, I'll wait for some more responses to see what they add. Thanks!
     
  4. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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    Dilution is the solution to pollution.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    take it in marked jugs to your haz waste disposal center
    or find a local mini lab that will process it with their waste
    don't dump it --- no one needs more photochemicals in their waste stream
     
  6. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I haven't lived in Vancouver for almost 20 years but here in Ontario I take it to my local hazmat disposal centre. They're actually excited to get something really juicy like formalin-based stabilizer, ferricyanide bleach, selenium toner, etc. Normally they just get boring batteries and paint cans...
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Dr.Pain-MD,

    In Chicago we have several sites that collect hazardous waste from hobbyists. This site might help you find a local place to take your chemicals. (Apologies if you've already checked this out.)

    Neal Wydra
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    All the local material I have been able to find on the internet indicates that if you intend to deal with a waste disposal service, it must be a private, for profit one (no doubt for a fee).

    Here is a link with information about many of those for profit entities: http://www.hazwastebc.com/Hazardous_Waste_Receiver-Processor_Capabilities.html

    This link from the regional district's site ("Metro Vancouver") provides a "Code of Practice for Photographic Imaging Operations (which) sets out the requirements for managing Non-Domestic Waste discharged directly or indirectly from a Photographic Imaging Operation into a Sewer or a Sewage Facility.".

    http://public.metrovancouver.org/services/permits/Liquid%20Waste%20Regulatory%20Docs/PhotoCoP.pdf

    This is, of course, oriented toward businesses. I find it interesting, however, that it seems to only restrict 'down-the-drain' disposal of "Silver-Rich Solutions".

    Those are defined as: "“Silver-Rich Solution” is a solution containing sufficient silver such that effective recovery can be done either on-site or off-site. Within photographic processing facilities, such solutions include, but are not limited to, fix and bleach-fix solutions, stabilizers, low replenished (low-flow) washes, and all functionally-similar solutions. It does not include low silver concentration solutions such as used developers, bleaches, stop baths, pre-bleaches, and stabilizers following washes and wash waters."

    From this I infer that, as far as Metro Vancouver is concerned, commercial photographic labs may simply dump into the sewer system "used developers, bleaches, stop baths, pre-bleaches, and stabilizers following washes and wash waters."

    Personally, I would phone Metro Vancouver with information about the quantities you have in hand

    EDIT: Emphasis added
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2011
  9. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2011
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Bob:

    I don't disagree.

    I referred to that information because it appears to be the only source of rules applicable to our area that deals with photographic processes and materials.

    There appears to be nothing in place (in our area) that deals with home darkrooms. All of the local "hazardous waste disposal" resources available to individuals appear to be material specific (if your material isn't on the list, they won't take it) and photographic chemistry isn't on the list.
     
  11. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    The reason there is nothing that deals with home darkrooms is because it really is a non-issue. The qty of silver you dump down the drain is going to be measured in fractions of parts per billion when it arrives at the sewage treatment plant. They can't do anything with the majority of prescription drugs, including the chemotherapy ones that pass thru a persons system and are discharged into the toilet either, and that is a huge problem for waste water treatment plants.

    It's not like you are printing 2000 4x6 prints per day and processing a couple of hundred films per day, which can to be the thru-put of a single mini-lab setup at the local grocery store.

    Edit, there even might be enough iron and other chemicals in the sewer pipes to react with most residential home darkroom silver discharges long before it gets to the treatment plant.
     
  12. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Hazmat is free here. They unmderstand that otherwise people will just dump it unsafely instead.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    either way bob-d659

    in a lot of places it is against the law to dump some things used as photochemicals down the drain,
    whether or not it is measured in part per billion, or million .. or whether it swaps with the iron or copper in
    the pipes as it travels to the treatment plants ... whether it becomes dilute or not is not the question ...

    the OP is attempting to do the right thing and that should be applauded ...
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    John:

    I don't disagree about trying to do the right thing.

    What I've been trying to make clear is that, while the "right thing" is well defined in our area for things like used engine oil, or old fluorescent light fixtures, or used batteries, or ....

    It is poorly or not defined in our area for photographic chemistry, save and except for a portion of the byproducts produced by commercial labs.
     
  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi matt

    i know what you mean ...

    your previous post said it all :smile:

    the best advice of the thread !

    - john
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I like to drink the stuff!

    Jeff
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    This very much depends on country, state or municipality. At my place it is an issue and no darkroom chemical waste is allowed go down the drain.
     
  18. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Hey, everyone. Thanks for all of your input! I talked to another club member who is also trying to find out the same thing. Our club has used chemicals which are picked up by a chemical waste disposal service of some kind and it looks like I should be able to dump my C-41 kit along with it. I'm not sure 100% yet, but I am in the process of finding out.
    While I keep my C-41 chemicals in ordinary 1L pop bottles, I might be tempted to do so, but I don't really think that I should. That and the fact that blix looks a lot like Dr.Pepper. :laugh:
     
  19. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I was showing my kids darkroom stuff one day when I used pop bottles. She said the indicator stop bath looked like orange juice. I haven't used pop bottles since, only brown darkroom bottles now. Don't want ANY mixups...
     
  20. AgX

    AgX Member

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    As Dr-Pain he should be used to medical tragedies...