Kodak’s Recycling Program Marks Record Milestone, Leaving Little to Waste
Eastman Kodak Company has achieved the milestone of recycling 1.5 billion single-use cameras, including both Kodak cameras and those from the company’s competitors.
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 huge amounts of waste out of landfills. 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.
Of the 1.5 billion, nearly 1 billion were Kodak single-use cameras. In the U.S., the rate of recycling rate for Kodak single-use cameras is 84%. That is up from 75% just a few years ago and is the highest rate of recycling of any consumer product in the U.S., handily beating the national recycling rates for items such as aluminum cans (52%) and consumer electronics (less than 20%).
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 U.S., 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.
“This is truly an impressive accomplishment. We work with electronics, appliance and automobile manufacturers around the world to help them ‘close-the-loop’ by recovering plastics from their end-of-life products and remanufacturing them so they can be used in new products. Kodak has accomplished this and more, even re-using some of its recovered components in new single-use cameras,” said Dr. Mike Biddle, President and Founder of MBA Polymers, Inc. “Additionally, Kodak has embraced a ‘design for recycling’ philosophy, made its cameras easier to dismantle, and used compatible materials and components to assist the recycling process.”