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Are Photographs Recyclable?

Can you recycle photographs

No, photographs are NOT recyclable. Photos contain silver, mercury, and selanium, all of which are considered hazardous waste and cannot be recycled in combination with paper. Unfortunately, there are few recycling facilities that will take the time to separate all of the materials in pictures because it is very expensive. Photos should be disposed of with other hazardous materials as to not contaminate water supplies.

Think before you print. You may have many pictures around your house from those pre-digital days that you need to get rid of, but moving forward there are things you can do to reduce your need to throw away photographs. For starters, only print out pictures you have a plan to use. Store the rest digitally so you can find them when you need them. You can also use photo paper made from 100% cotton or bamboo, such as that made by Hahnemuhle or the recyclable HP Everyday Paper, if you print from your computer.  Avoid resin-coated finishes, which is the portion of the photograph that makes it most difficult to recycle and avoid chlorine-based papers. And of course, find an eco-friendly way to recycle your ink cartridge when it runs dry.

Learn more about photo recycling at