ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Eastman Kodak Co. recently recycled its 50 millionth single-use camera, saving an estimated 21 million pounds of plastic from heading to landfills. Jim Blamphin, manager of environmental news for Eastman Kodak, said the company's focus with the Fun Saver cameras has been not only on reusing parts after they are returned to retailers and photo processors, but also in reprocessing nonreusable parts into recycled-content plastic parts for new cameras.
``On average, 85 percent by weight of the Fun Saver 35s are recycled or reused,'' Blamphin said.
The cameras are designed so that the consumer simply returns the entire unit to the photofinisher to develop its film. After removing and developing the film, the photofinisher returns the empty cameras to Kodak.
``The used bodies and internal parts are delivered directly to The Outsource, a nonprofit organization in Rochester which employs the developmentally disabled. There the plastic parts are separated from the metal and the cardboard packaging,'' Blamphin said.
Retrieved intact are the internal frame and chassis, which primarily are molded of polystyrene; the polypropylene spools and wheel counters on which the film is wound; and the high-energy winding lever and outer clear cover made of polycar-bonate.
Those parts are taken to Kodak for use in new cameras.
The front and back outside camera bodies, injection molded of PS, are ground, mixed with virgin PS and molded into new camera bodies. The PC lenses are replaced with each reuse with a new lens made of virgin material.
All Fun Savers now on the market contain some recycled material, and are fully recyclable within the system. The company also accepts other one-use-only cameras.
``We have agreements with Fuji, Konica, and the other makers of one-use cameras, under which we return the empty cameras to them,'' he said. ``We used to landfill them.''
The company reported that 63 percent of the Fun Savers sold in the United States have been returned, almost rivaling the 65.4 percent recycling rate of aluminum beverage cans.
In addition, the company estimates the recycling system has resulted in 20 percent source reduction.