Recovering silver from waste solutions such as those produced by the popular processing of medical and industrial X-ray films, photographic films and pictures, as well as graphic films, papers and plates is a concept that has been practiced for over 100 years.  However the economic viability of the process has radically changed in recent years.

Silver is consumed in endless ways, from medical eye drops to lubricants for jet engines.  It is used by every hospital, medical clinic and dentist, as well as by X-ray departments, photo processors, printers and anyone engaging wet-solution photo processing. 

Our methods of recovery offer the opportunity to earn faster paybacks, which means faster profits.  We essentially use two methods of recovery, namely ELECTROLYSIS and PASSIVE RECOVERY.

All film i.e. X-rays, Negatives used for Newspaper or your camera spool all has Silver emulsified.  When the film is processed through fixer the Silver washes off the film and the image is developed on the film.  There is now silver in the fixer and some left on the film.
Various methods of recovering the Silver are used.

  1. Electrolysis – most commonly used.  A stainless steel drum with current attracts the silver.  The silver is stripped off the drum and the by-product called flake is sent for refining – usually 90% - 95% pure.
  2. By adding chemicals, which cause the silver to form sludge – this is then dried and refined.  The sludge is usually 30% pure.
  3. Silver Traps – are also used to extract silver.  This is a container with a cartridge – the fixer filters through the container and the Silver is trapped in the cartridge
  4. Companies such as CPM collect fixer, bleach fixer and exposed film from litho printing companies, photo labs and Hospitals. We extract the silver from the waste material and process to pure silver which is sold to the silver industry.  The Jewellery Industry uses a large portion of the recovered silver.

It is difficult to say how much silver is extracted over a year. More interesting is the quantity of silver in the film & fixer.  X-ray film has an average of 7.5g per kilogram while negatives have 9g / kg and camera film 2g / kg. Fixer varies according to how the film is processed but average at 3.0 grams per liter.

The silver price fluctuates daily and is based on the London Metal Exchange price and the U.S.Dollar.