Single-Use Camera Recycling Hits 1.5 Billion Mark

Eastman Kodak Company has recycled 1.5 billion single-use cameras, including both Kodak cameras and those from the company's competitors, according to an April 7 press release.

Started in 1990, the Kodak single-use camera recycling program, works with photofinishing outlets to return used single-use cameras to Kodak sorting centers, where they are then routed for recycling. Nearly every piece of the camera is either recycled or reused in the ongoing production of more single-use cameras, bringing down costs for consumers and keeping waste out of landfills.

Of the 1.5 billion, nearly 1 billion were Kodak single-use cameras. In the United States, the rate of recycling is 84 percent. That is up from 75 percent a few years ago and is the highest rate of recycling of any consumer product in the United States, beating the national recycling rates for items such as aluminum cans (52 percent) and consumer electronics (less than 20 percent).

With these increased recycling rates, it means that today most Kodak single-use cameras are produced from recycled camera bodies.

"We're excited to remain a leading champion of recycling in the U.S. and beyond with this program that is now in its 19th year," said Joel Proegler, general manager, Film Capture and vice president, Film, Photofinishing & Entertainment Group. "Even in this digital age, there continues to be strong demand for single-use cameras, and we're continuing to meet this demand in an environmentally responsible manner."

How does it work? A photofinisher returns used single-use cameras to a collection center. Kodak then pays a fee for returned single-use cameras, including those from other manufacturers with whom Kodak has an exchange agreement. The cameras are collected after the film is processed and, in the United States, sent to Rochester to be sorted and routed. Through a mutual agreement, major competitor single-use cameras are sent to their original manufacturers while Kodak single-use cameras are sent to a Kodak factory in Guadalajara, Mexico, to be recycled and reused. The body and internal parts in good condition are put into new single-use cameras, while the rest of the camera, such as the plastic outer casing, is ground and recycled. Kodak will feature new packaging to inform customers of the benefits of the recycling program.