The legal situation might be different though. (Whether there would be a practical risk to get into legal trouble is something else.)
But you hinted at a important point: replenishing.
At the amounts most home photographers use, except for silver, by the time the diluted effluent reaches the sewer treatment plant, those chemicals would be virtually undetectable unless somebody was doing some very sensitive testing and analysis, probably using a mass spectrometer. Even then, the levels would probably be barely detectable. Even at 100 times that amount, it wouldn't amount to spit in the ocean. The chemicals and machinery at any good sewer treatment facility would easily destroy most photographic chemicals in the quantities that most of us dispose of them.
Refer to Kodak Publication J-300: "Environmental Guidelines for Amateur Photographers"
Specifically, Page 3 and Page 5, Table I.
This document tells exactly what to do with your photographic effluent. Basically, with a few important exceptions, it says, "Get the silver out and dump the rest down the sewer."
Kodak is not to decide over local law.
Quote from publication J-300:
As a photographer, you have a unique sensitivity to the environment around you. But, as an amateur photographer, you don’t have to worry about the environmental and safety regulations that apply to commercial businesses and professional photographers. But you still need to know how to safely handle and dispose of photographic processing chemicals.
AMATEUR OR PROFESSIONAL?
An amateur is someone who engages in an activity as a pastime rather than a profession. An amateur photographer does not generate (or try to generate) revenue from the use of photography. When you become a professional photographer and charge for your services, you are required by law to comply with certain environmental and workplace safety regulations (some of which are covered in this publication). As an amateur photographer, you are not required by law to follow those regulations but we are providing recommendations on safe handling and waste management practices.
[Page 1.] (Emphasis added.)
Kodak does not claim to override local law but they still give good information on how to manage photographic waste.
See Appendix A for the listing of state household hazardous waste collection coordinators. You may contact your state coordinator for information on the household hazardous waste collection facility nearest you.
You can also discharge your photographic wastes to a local municipal sewer authority, often referred to as a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). Contact the POTW directly to see if they will accept your waste.
people often quote the j-300 publication,
unfortunately, it was publshed in 1999,
and in 2005 kodak has changed their tune ...
in a more recent publication " Darkroom Design for Amateur Photographers"
they specifically say to adhere to local regulations ..
on the bottom of page 7
"• Properly dispose of photographic processing chemicals
in accordance with local sewer discharge regulations.
Kodak does not recommend the use of septic systems
for disposal of photographic processing chemicals"
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I don't think Kodak has changed their tune very much at all. Both documents seem to say much the same things. They seem to reinforce each other.
In fact, this same phrase is printed, word-for-word in both documents: "Kodak does not recommend the use of septic systems for disposal of photographic processing chemicals."
The environmental laws really kick in when you decide to do photography as a business rather than a hobby. The environmental laws are all about $$$ - which is why most household chemicals are exempted and it's only when you operate a business that the rules kick in.
I'm going through this now, as I have given thought to commercializing my photography. The local water company requires full testing of the waste stream, which costs $800, at least once a year. And they will only permit silver levels of 0.005mg/L which is 1,000 times lower than the EPA designation of hazardous. I think they have made a mistake, but they insist not. Interim testing for certain parameters is also required. Although much of photographic waste is not hazardous, the testing is expensive and at the end of the day, there is no practical way to bring silver down to 0.005mg/L, so I will have to find another way to dispose of it (maybe use silver reduction and then mix it with A LOT of developer). EPA rules also forbid dilution as a method of rendering a hazardous substance non-hazardous, so I'd have to have my fixer below 5mg/L before I could mix it with something else.
You end up having to be a lawyer to comply, and I find that the local environmental folks often don't understand the rules themselves. And because the rules focus mainly on concentrations rather than volumes, it is much harder cost-wise for very small businesses to comply than large ones.
Finally -for very small users, Google "Chemgon" Essentially a 5 gallon jug for about $50 that contains sodium polyacrylate - which will turn a pH neutralized fixer into a solid that will not leech silver, and the unit can then be thrown in the garbage. I have no affiliation with them other than to have bought a couple, and they seem to work and the local waste dept ultimately signed off on them.
Oh, and if you are a business, using a septic tank for process waste is illegal.
Sorry to hear about all that harassment by local authorities. Who could have guessed that blix is deadlier than farm fertilizers and Drano (it might well be as bad, but laws and regulations should be consistent if the environmental impact is the same). As for my issues here, my chemist friend suggests that I simply dilute and dispose via a non-septic tank system since my quantities are too small (about 1L in total per month, on average) to justify getting a contract with a waste disposal firm (which she says is a scam in any case)
I replied on this matter in post #20.
Originally Posted by newcan1
But just now I understand the idea behind: disposing it as solid waste.
-) Well, being dumped in a landfill this procedure would be environmentally absurd (as landfills as such...)
-) Being incinerated the silver at is best would land in the exhaust filter, otherwise in the sludge and then most probably ending in the environment again.
This being legal shows the absurdity in same waste disposol regulations.