How disposable are disposable cameras? © iStock

How disposable are disposable cameras?

It’s more accurate to think of them as recyclable rather than disposable.

Asked by: Simon Woods, by E-mail.

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It’s more accurate to think of them as recyclable rather than disposable. When you send the used camera for processing, the film is removed and the photos developed or transferred to CD. Then, the camera itself goes through an elaborate automated recycling production line. Machines remove the labels and pass the naked unit to be opened up so that the batteries can be removed and sent for recycling.

The cameras are manufactured to a modular design so that it’s easy to remove assemblies like the flash and its associated components. Likewise, the lenses and viewfinders pop out easily. Each is tested and brushed clean. The plastic bodies are crushed and melted before being remoulded. Then, the second half of the production line reassembles the salvaged components back into complete cameras. As a result, very little is actually thrown away. In Europe the whole process is covered by the EU’s directive on recycling and disposing of waste electronic equipment.


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