Silver is an essential component for the quality of prints on photographic paper. During the photographic developing process, 99% of all silver is removed from the photo. But where does it all go? During the process, our clients recover already 96%! Most of them do this themselves. Some of them collect the chemical waste and give it to a waste management company. The last 3% ends up in our client’s wash water of the RA4 development process. And therefore, unfortunately, still some of the silver is lost down the drain.

We at Fujifilm have committed ourselves to do everything we can to close this gap. Our goal is to recover 100% of the silver in the entire chain. We are therefore developing a system that can help our clients recover their silver in their own facilities. The system can be fully integrated into their RA4 development process. Helping them to control their wash water, improving the process with low effort and giving our clients the opportunity to recover and regain the value of the remaining silver. This goal is part of our reduce, reuse and recycle strategy and fits perfectly within the range of our sustainability objectives. Just like our goal to use 100% sustainable energy and to reduce our packaging. We want to take every possible little step to get closer to a more eco-friendly and sustainable future.

With the development of our new column system, we will remove almost all silver from the wash water. To be precise, the new desilvering system will reduce the amount of silver to less than 0.1 mg/litre. To reach this, we need to optimise the parameters of the RA4 process. By making the RA4 process more predictable, we can guarantee the reliability of the desilvering process. The stabilisation of the RA4 process has not only a positive effect on water usage during the process, but it also contributes to water reuse. All this will be an excellent achievement in reducing the carbon footprint of our photographic paper life cycle.

As we are still in a research and development stage, all relevant data is currently being collected and studied. We are in a proof-of-concept phase to determine the new process parameters and efficiency. After this phase, we will test the new desilvering system in a pilot photo lab before offering it to the larger photo labs.
The idea behind the system is that it does not depend on people. When installed, it independently guarantees the further reduction of silver in the wash water. We aim to achieve our 100% silver recovery goal by 2025