You are correct about selenium toning. That is the only source of selenium in processing except for burning selenium toned prints. That generates selenium vapors which are toxic. The selenium toner itself contains toxic selenium compounds. I personally have stopped using it.
Originally Posted by jnanian
However, to expand on my point, properly disposed of photographic solutions (minus selenium toner) can be evaporated and burned in a special incinerator and the only products are carbon dioxide and water. In burning, any silver residue can be found in the ash. Yes, I realize that the CO2 is ungood, but the organics can be used in this case as fuels for electrical generation, as they are all flammable in their solid states and are easily handled in the proper incinerator. Kodak does just that with scrubbers in the flue of the incinerators.
Unused blix or bleach (or ones with the silver removed to a safe level) are so nearly totally non-toxic that they are capable of being usable as fertilzer on flowers and shrubs. I don't recommend this, I merely point it out.
This level of recylability cannot be said of any electronic product. They are sources of concentrated heavy metals which leach out in rain and water in dumps. The alternative, burning, releases the toxic gases. And, when the US converts to the HDTV standard soon, there will be a lot of lead containing tube tvs out there to be disposed of on top of the old junk computers.
By comparison then, the toxic nature of photographic processing solutions world wide is far lower than that of electronic equipment by some estimates that I have seen. Read the Time article for more.
I have run (and have recorded in my EK notebook) a color process that uses recycled wash water over and over again, having cleaned it totally of all chemicals by a special process. All overflow chemicals and removed chemicals went into a small pack using this process, and that was then easily destroyed by any one of several benign methods leaving no significant toxic residue. As you point out, Selenium would be the exception. This process produced drinkable water by analysis, and a disposable pouch.
I emphasize that this cannot be done with heavy metals or non-metal ingredients that are toxic to the environment.
aside from a lab,
who has the ability to incinerate
their spent, dried out photochemistry ?
in a lab, yes, these things are possible, but in reality,
the "everyday photographer" doesn't have an incinerator
(with a vapor hood ! ) and an epa permit to do use it ...
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
Last edited by jnanian; 07-25-2007 at 07:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by arigram
Well, quite frankly, you are right in one sense, but in another it is a simple matter to set up a mixed bed resin and an organic resin, and then run your 'effluent' through that. Out comes clean water, and what is left is a burnable residue which can be given to the recovery center that incinerates such trash.
Originally Posted by jnanian
Kind of like a water softener. In fact, the resin would be a mixed bed water sofener cartridge. Simple and clean and efficient.
You have a dry cartridge when done instead of buckets of glop to dispose of.
You bring up a key point in that different items are recycled/reused in different ways.
Originally Posted by film_guy
Here in NYC we have a very successful post-consumer based recycling program for ordinary metals and glass (e.g. cans and bottles), paper products and plastics (hey - you've got to get rid of those darn take-out soup containers).
These items are collected by the City and delivered to a sorting/recycling center run by a company in New Jersey. [As an interesting sidebar - this company got its start after WWII breaking down Liberty Ships - they moved into waste recycling in more modern times].
Most of these basic waste stream "commodities" are easily processed here in the USA [although some of the cardboard/paper may also go to China etc. - see my earlier post].
That is presently the extent of NYC's recycling program and it removes a considerable percentage of total waste from landfill needs. Note: it is primarily a landfill and incineration elimination strategy - both of which "cost" the City whereas the recycling company "pays" the City for "raw materials".
As to more hazardous items - the reliance remains on specific collection sites and voluntary compliance. That is why I think it is a bit of a specious argument to claim that because one's community has a recycling program - all is well.
It really depends on what is actually being diverted from the waste stream and successfully re-used.
As far as I am aware, the proper, non-environmentally damaging discarding of chemicals is probably more "advanced" at this point than it is for electronics.
This is mainly due to the fact that chemicals (including petroleum-based products) can be readily rendered neutral or re-distilled etc. without requiring significant transportation.
The new, massive presence of electronic waste as a result of the "digital revolution" is a very different situation. Little technology yet exists to effectively teardown a circuit board en masse and render it's remaining detritus into usable recyclables or neutralize it's deleterious effects. Hence the now well-known pictures of children in western China taking apart circuit boards by hand.
Finally, as to those who continue here to complain about mercury-based flourescent house bulbs replacing tungsten incandescents - how may time do we have to go on about this? Obviously, the discarding of these new bulbs will require a change in thinking from the old "toss and forget". But the energy savings possible by a mass-migration to these bulbs will stabilize, if not reduce, electric generation demand substantially.
Yes, there is no total win-win; but the damaging effect of increased carbon emissions is presently a much greater concern than is the risk of careless disposal of mercury carrying light bulbs.
And besides, if you don't want to use them, then just don't use them!
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I agree that the average person does not want or care to recycle photochemicals, but I can buy those cartridges at Home Depot for about $10 each. But it is inefficient.
Originally Posted by jnanian
The overall picture is more complex.
The outflow of toxic materials from all analog processes WW is much less toxic than the outflow from dumps of electronic equipment and their manufacture. The manufacture of organics for analog photography is about equal to the manufacture of dyes for inkjet printing. The pigment inks are probably more toxic.
So, the balance we are looking for is effluent from photo processing for any reason vs the 'effluent' from manufacturing digital products and dumps for obsolete equipment.
But then, we have argued this over and over and over in the last few years and it is becoming tiresome as no one can 'prove' anything. We always end up at the same point.
As an aside - this evening I replaced the toner cartridge of the HP printer I use at home.
It's relatively new (1-1/2 years) and hasn't seen too much use so this was the first replacement.
I opened the box with the new cartridge and did the swap out. I was about to throw out the brochure inside the box when I realized that it felt "kind of heavy" for simple newsprint.
So I opened it and found a prepaid UPS return label attached to a multi-lingual brochure explaining how to return anything from one to twelve cartridges for recycling.
Who knows where they will wind up? But congrats are due to HP for at least trying to do the right thing.
Oh, and yes, I realize that "built into" the price I paid for the cartridge was the UPS charge etc. - but, so what? If its disposal is handled "properly" it's a sunk cost anyway and both HP and I can feel better for having taken the trouble.
It's the small steps that change the consciousness that are important.
These are refurbed, refilled with toner, and sold. Many public schools in our area collect toner cartridges and get paid for them by the printer mfgrs. They do it as a fund raiser. Rather than sending it back for free, you might see if there's a good place locally that can make a couple of bucks off each cartridge you donate to them.
Originally Posted by copake_ham
Originally Posted by Lee L
Granted that - but I'm sitting in high-rise condo in the middle of midtown Manhattan. I'm just glad that I can get a freebie UPS pickup from the mailroom in the basement.
And, yes, I could also schlep the thing to a Staples store on my walk to work or find a "worthy youth group" etc. But the whole idea is to make it "painless" to the end user no matter how it's done. And that's a good thing.
One can hope that similar "ease of proper disposal" methods will be implemented for the CF bulbs as the burnouts begin to proliferate in the next few years*.
* CF bulbs have an expected life of 10 years or so. We first started to switch over about seven years ago - replacing incadescents as the died. Given a 10 year expected life - we should start to see "burnouts" fairly soon. Then the issue of proper disposal will become "real"!