How to Properly Dispose of Old Film Developers?

If you’re a photography fan or you once decided to give film development a try, then you must be wondering what to do with your old film developers and how to safely dispose of them.

In this post, we’re going to teach you some ways to dispose of old film developers safely.

What are the chemicals used in film development?

In order to decide which way you are going to dispose of said film developers, you first need to know what kind of chemical you’re working with.

Depending on the type of developer you purchase, the chemicals are going to vary, so make sure you check the packaging to identify the chemical present.

Some of the most common chemicals used in film development are Hydroquinone, P-Aminophenol, Metol, Catchetol (Pyrocatechin), and Dimezone, each one offering a different developing effect.

How long do film developing chemicals last?

Film developing chemical durability depends on both the chemical and the state they are in.

Powdered developers will have longer durability versus liquid developers which can last from 6 months up to 18 months, depending on the chemical.

If you work with liquid developers, make sure to keep track of how long that chemical has been in use, so you don’t go over the time and accidentally ruin your work.

Can I pour film chemicals down the sink?

Some of the chemicals used by film developers contain silver which can severely hurt the aquatic ecosystems, which is why it is recommended to not pour film chemicals directly down the sink.

To get rid of the film chemicals safely, put the film developers into cat litter or dictate powder so they can solidify and then be thrown away with regular solid waste.

Some chemicals can also be diluted with water and disposed of that way, however, we recommend this method as a last resort because of how damaging it can be in the long term to all aquifers.

What can you do with old film chemicals besides throwing them out?

You can store your film developers in a separate container labeled correctly and get in contact with your local recycling facilities or waste centers. Some of them have proper training on how to dispose of chemicals and other dangerous materials, or maybe even have the means to dispose of them themselves.

You can also visit your local photography development studio and ask for their help, since they are the experts they could already have a waste facility they frequent and could lend you a hand in taking care of the disposal.

Ultimately, if you don’t have a recycling or waste disposal center in your area, solidifying the chemical by putting it into cat litter or dictate powder might be your best option for disposing of it in the safest way possible.

That way, developing chemicals don’t end up directly in the drains and then in the bodies of water which can harm living organisms and even destroy their ecosystems.

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