How Eco Friendly Are Disposable Cameras?

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As interest in green topics continues to increase, more and more people are taking a look at the rubbish they throw away and trying to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill.

We all know that plastic bags are bad – whether that’s the packaging that our food comes in or the bags we carry our groceries home in. And we also know that anything we can reuse or recycle is generally better for the environment.

But going away on vacation recently I wanted to buy some disposable cameras that I could take out for the day with me, without risking any damage to my normal digital camera. The question was – are these disposable cameras bad for the environment.

My assumption was that they had to be. After all, they’re made of plastic. You send your camera away, the film is removed and then the camera body is disposed of. Or is it?

Further investigation revealed a rather surprising secret. Most disposable cameras are made in a “modular” format so that various pieces can be removed. For example the flash can come off, the back door covering the film and so on.

So it turns out that disposable cameras typically aren’t actually disposed of.

The film developer of course firstly carefully removes your film and then develops it for you. But then the body of the camera, far from going to landfill, is often then sent back to the manufacturer for recycling.

The main camera itself is fixed up, with any necessary parts being replaced, and the batteries being changed for the flash (while the old ones are recycled) and then it is packaged back up and resold with almost no waste.

So despite my initial misgivings it would appear that disposable cameras are actually surprisingly environmentally friendly if you ignore the fact that they are almost always made of plastic which of course will have come originally from oil.

But once the main camera body has been made, it is recycled and reused over and over again greatly reducing the environmental impact of these cameras. Imagine my surprise!

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