Your Guide to Recycle Disposable Cameras

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Recycling in a Flash!

recycle disposable cameras
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dawn Ashley

Usually I would not be into the one-time, disposable items for obvious reasons, but it turns out that most disposable cameras are completely recycled. I pretty much stopped using the disposable cameras ever since the whole, you know, digital thing, but a lot of people still use them.

You’ve got to admit there’s a certain nostalgic excitement to be found in having a disposable camera developed. Plus, many people look for a single use camera for their wedding. I didn’t have a clue that disposable cameras are so well recycled until I looked into Kodak’s recycling program. The company has found that recycling one-time use cameras is good for business.

No consumer product enjoys a higher recycling rate than one-time use cameras.

It is very interesting to note that Kodak started this program in 1990, before going green hit the mainstream. The Kodak OTUC (One-Time Use Camera) program works with photofinishing outlets to return used cameras to Kodak sorting centers. The cameras are then routed for recycling.

In the U.S., the recycling rate for one-time use cameras is greater than 80%! Nearly every piece of the camera is either recycled or reused in the ongoing production of more OTUCs, bringing down costs for consumers and keeping huge amounts of waste out of landfills. Something like 1.5 billion cameras were recycled in one year, and up to one third of that number was the Kodak brand. Nice of them to recycle other cameras too!

From their website: “Laid end to end, the 1.5 billion cameras would stretch 120,000 miles, which is enough to circle the earth five times or reach more than halfway to the moon.”

Best of all, the rate of recycling of OTUCs is increasing. From 75% just a few years ago, the recycling rate is now around 84%. Can you believe that is the highest rate of recycling of any consumer product in the U.S.? Here’s a snapshot for you- that’s WAY more than the national recycling rates for items such as aluminum cans (52%) and plastic beverage containers (25%).

With these increased recycling rates, it means that today most Kodak OTUCs are produced from other, recycled disposable cameras. All the more reason to say cheese!

Single Use Disposable Camera Recycling

Bearing the information above in mind, that means that a store near you may accept your disposable camera for recycling. Ask your nearest photo developer if they partner with Fuji or Kodak to mail in disposable cameras that they collect in bulk. They might have a setup where all cameras ultimately end up at these companies because the film recovered is valuable.

Commodity Resource & Environmental, Inc offers a program if you’re willing to mail in your cameras yourself. The amount you get paid for cameras may only end up covering shipping costs, but at least they won’t end up in a landfill!

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One Response to Your Guide to Recycle Disposable Cameras

  1. I have about 8 disposable cameras that are maybe over a decade old, so they’re too old to develop, as the pictures would come out damaged. How would I go about recycling these? Where can I take them?

    Thanks in advance.

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