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Silver Reclamation


Silver is a hazardous waste product contained in photographic fixer and businesses that develop photographic film are producers of silver-bearing waste including, photo developers and businesses that develop x-rays (i.e., veterinary, dental and medical practices).

Silver is toxic in an aquatic environment so it is one of the pollutants that is regulated. For photo and x-ray development processes, the limit is 100 parts per million (ppm) silver in the process wastewater. The limit is applied at the end of the development process, downstream of any silver recovery and prior to dilution with other wastestreams such as domestic wastewater.

To remove silver from its waste stream, a business may:

  • include storage of waste fixer accompanied by offsite disposal at an approved facility
  • perform onsite recovery of silver using either an electrolytic system or a metallic replacement system
  • a combination of the two systems

Businesses that are identified as potential silver dischargers are asked to fill out a silver reclamation survey (PDF 20KB) and may be subject to routine compliance monitoring by IPP staff. With increased use of digital photography, the number of businesses using film development is decreasing.