March 21, 1997
Recycling Efforts Leads to State Award
Turning "garbage into gold" recently won UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls, a governor's award for excellence in hazardous waste reduction.
In presenting the award at the Environment '97 conference in Milwaukee, Gov. Tommy Thompson said "this project represents an impressive team effort at three university campuses."
Black and white photographic developing processes generate an acidic fixer waste which is hazardous due to a high concentration of dissolved silver. Historically, the three campuses had disposed of these wastes via municipal sanitary systems.
Five years ago, silver reclaim units were purchased. All photo fixer waste is now recycled and the toxic silver eliminated. "The silver garbage of the three campuses is now being turned into the 'gold' of silver metal," stated Henry Grote, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist for the three campuses.
In addition to all toxicity being removed from the waste chemicals, each campus is saving more than $4,400 per year in waste disposal cost.
The process has similar application to any state institution or private business operating photographic laboratories, according to Grote. "We are committed to helping any organization realize the benefits of this 'garbage' into 'gold' project".