Photographic imaging operations in the CRD include any retail, commercial, institutional or corporate photographic film processing or printing facility that uses silver to develop film. Examples of facilities include:

  • Mini-labs, professional and commercial photo processors, portrait and commercial studios
  • Commercial printers, publishers and newspapers
  • Law enforcement photo imaging
  • Photo imaging at schools and military facilities
  • Public and private laboratories, including medical, dental and vet offices

With the advent of digital photography many of these processes have become more specialized, however they are still in existence throughout the region. Film photography, common in x-ray use, is still used by a portion of the population.

Why are photographic imaging wastes a concern in our environment?

Studies from other jurisdictions show that silver from photo processors contributes significantly to the total silver loading in municipal wastewater. Silver accumulations in soils may, over time, exceed levels specified under provincial contaminated site regulations.

Free silver ions are very toxic to aquatic organisms. Although photographic imaging industries have significantly reduced the amount of process chemicals being discharged to sanitary sewers over the past 20 years, silver recovery remains and important step in waste reduction programs, conserving a valuable and non-renewable resource and controlling silver presence in wastewater.

Some photographic imaging wastes are also corrosive and may contribute to leaks in sewer pipes if not responsibly managed. The Photographic Imaging Code of Practice was created to ensure safe disposal of these materials.

Or, photographic imaging facilities can disconnect their non-domestic drains from the sewer system and become a "dry shop" (Schedule K Section 2.0).

What can photographic imaging operators do?

Heavy metals and other contaminants are now much less common in our regions water, thanks in large part to source control efforts. Continued effort will ensure our ocean is cleaner and safer for everyone.

By following the photographic imaging regulations you will protect our environment, reduce your own liability and provide a greener, improved business image in your community. Regulations prohibit photographic imaging facilities from:

  • Discharging waste which has in excess of 5 milligrams per litre of silver
  • Discharging prohibited waste into the sewer system
  • Discharging wastewater which contain restricted wastes such as:
    • iron, sulphate and chloride
    • BOD and COD

Photographic imaging operators must also:

  • Install silver recovery technology.
  • Perform inspections and maintenance of treatment works.
  • Create a spill response plan.
  • Maintain written records.

The code of practice also has extensive information on chemical recovery and electrical recovery cartridges for silver.

Creating an Environmentally Sustainable Business

Other wastes from photographic imaging facilities can also be a concern. Follow the best management practices outlined in the guidebook.

  • Choose products with less packaging and those made from recycled materials.
  • Work to minimize the amount of waste your business produces.
  • Recycle as much non-hazardous waste as possible.
  • Keep machines and storage areas clean and well-maintained.

By reducing waste overall and disposing of waste in the proper manner, you can help protect our region's environment.

Read the Regulations

The Code of Practice for Photographic Imaging, developed under CRD Bylaw No. 2922 - Sewer Use Bylaw, gives a detailed description of the regulations that these businesses need to follow.

Bylaw Schedule

What are prohibited & restricted wastes?

Read the list of prohibited and restricted wastes, including details on maximum allowable concentrations.