Recycling darkroom materials (glass, paper, etc.)
I've been wondering about something for a while now: I use up certain materials in my darkroom, but I don't know whether they can be recycled. I'm not talking about chemistry here, but rather:
- paper -- RC paper, in particular, seems rather unlike the typical office paper that I put out for recycling. I've been assuming it can't be recycled, but if I can recycle my test strips, bad prints, etc., I'll start doing so. FB paper seems, to the eye and touch, more like office paper, but I don't know if the emulsions or other features might cause problems.
- glass -- I have yet to break or otherwise "use up" a glass bottle, but when I do, can I put it out for recycling with my other glass items? Will the cloudy deposits I see on some glass jars cause problems at the recycling center? If so, which products, once stored in glass, make it dodgy to recycle?
- plastic -- Pretty much the same question as for glass, except of course that some chemistry (Rodinal, most color developers, stop baths, etc.) come in plastic bottles to begin with. These are invariably marked with recycling symbols, so I've been assuming they are recyclable, once washed.
Any tips are appreciated.
I recycle many of my bottles, mostly plastic. I just wash them out and toss 'em in the bin for plastics. I don't really have any photographic glass waste, but I have no reason to believe that it would be any different than any other glass. The only thing that my local recycling company says about chemicals is that they will not take empty oil bottles. Other than that, they take just about anything I put out there. If in doubt, you could ask.
As far as RC paper goes, I toss that in the regular bin. I'm not sure what they would do with it since it has the coating rather than standard sizing that other paper has. How different that is from, say, a full-color mailer I have no idea. I mostly use fiber, and that goes in paper recycling bin with the other stuff. So far, they have never left me any nasty-grams about it...
Recycled glass is melted and any deposits would be destroyed in the process.
I would put any photographic paper, FB and RC, in the trash. Recyclers would not want it since it would spoil any batch of recyled paper in which it was included..
Most recycling systems don't want anything the least bit out of the ordinary. Gelatin is likely to cause trouble in paper recycling, for instance, causing the fibers to gum together instead of dispersing (and there isn't as much bleaching in recycled paper, for various reasons -- chlorine bleach would break up the gelatin). The last three places I've lived didn't want broken glass of any sort (presumably for safety reasons, since they end up crushing the recycled glass to make frit).
Plastic chemical bottles probably can be recycled after washing, as long as there aren't restrictions on contents of plastic containers and your facility handles the type of plastic they're made of. Again, most recycling systems (in the USA) don't seem to handle plastics other than 1 (PETE, beverage bottles almost exclusively) and some 2 (HDPE, but not LDPE, usually); here (North Carolina) they don't even want 2 if it was a dairy container (no idea why).
Please check with your local recycling authority, since their needs are the controlling ones -- "contamination", however well meaning, costs so much to remove that it nullifies the efforts of dozens of recyclers if you start tossing the wrong stuff into the bin; many recycling utilities have to simply landfill contaminated loads because they can't sell the material (though the ones that do more separation themselves do better on this, because they're better set up to remove contamination, like #7 ketchup bottles in with the #1 soda jugs).
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
It may well depend on where you live. In my parents town, almost anything that hasn't touched food is fine for recycling. They have a relatively new facility that can handle window envelopes, ones with metal clasps, plastic from 1 to 7, and all aluminum cans. They just want the plastic bottles separate from the metal and the paper. Where I live, they'll take plastic from 1-6, window envelopes, and all types of cans. They just have more restrictions on how small the paper/cardboard has to be cut up.
I'd say to check with the town (anonymously).
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