The Art of Recycling Polaroid Cartridges (Part Two)


Moving on from my previous article about finding a use for empty Polaroid cartridges here are some more ideas to bring these little black boxes back to life.



A great use is to store your developed pictures by putting them back into the cartridges. Make a note of the camera and film used along with the date and locations for reference at a later date. This is an excellent way to keep them and protect them from light.


A further option to re-use the cartridges could be to use them as a frame. You may have seen this done before? You can display a single image or a whole wall of them. The original color can be retained, black, or paint them any color you like and decorate to suit a mood or surroundings. Alternative ideas include placing several cartridges inside another deep presentation frame to create a scene with your images thus adding an extra dimension.

Business card holder


These days there are different sizes of instant photographs. A lot of younger people prefer the smaller, Fuji Instax Camera. Different camera, different size cartridge. The Instax film comes in business card size so why not use the empty cartridge for just that? In my experience, it’s easier to store cards made out of lighter material as the thicker ones tend to get stuck.

Those of us that practice instant photography will notice them and they fit easily into your pocket.
Alternatively, if you have a studio using one on your counter for dispensing cards is an idea.

Gift Box

Take a Gift Voucher to another level and add a personal touch. In a similar way that we used the cartridge as a frame, you can make it into a gift box for a voucher with a personal message. Alternatively, just fill up a cartridge with photos and send it to friends and relatives that you don’t get to see often. A reminder of what you look like in these times of self-isolation.

Or Recycle it

If you have no further use for the finished cartridge the best thing to do for the environment is to recycle it responsibly.

All parts should be separated before throwing it away. It’s important to remember that SX-70, 600’s and Spectra packs contain a lithium battery. To remove this break open the film cartridge by pushing the bottom edge away from the window frame. The gap under the slot where the film normally scrolls out should now be open and you can easily slide out the spring and the battery, but be careful of the sharp edges.

The individual pieces can now be recycled or disposed of appropriately. If you want the spring can be kept to make a stand for your Polaroids.


Upcycling is good for the environment in the era of disposable goods we currently live in. Adding a personal touch shows thought and I would like to think family and friends would appreciate this. I hope I have convinced you to do something useful with leftover film packs and the ideas have provoked you to think more conscientiously in future.


By Amy van Veen


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