How Certifications Are Reacting To the Evolving CRT Situation
By: Bobby Elliott

Citing recent changes to the CRT recycling landscape, the leaders of e-scrap environmental certifications e-Stewards and R2 are taking a look at what they can do to help address downstream challenges and concerns.

The e-Stewards certification, which last week "conditionally allowed" retrievable storage of CRT glass, is finalizing a list of approved downstream processors for certified companies to use. After going through a 30-day public comment period, that list will be made official before the end of the year.

R2, meanwhile, has called on its Technical Advisory Committee to consider a variety of changes to the standard that could potentially open up outlets that have not been approved under the standard in the past. "It could be a time for change," John Lingelbach, executive director of SERI, told E-Scrap News. SERI is the housing body for the R2 standard.

Both R2 and e-Stewards are grappling with the recent idling of India-based Videocon, which had been the largest consumer of U.S. CRT glass, and the various question marks surrounding alternative glass outlets.

The options for e-Stewards
The e-Stewards stance on the CRT glass processing space is evolving, and a number of complex factors are affecting decisions of officials at the standard.

In an interview, Jim Puckett, the executive director of e-Stewards' founding organization, Basel Action Network, said the group is preparing to release a "sanctioned interpretation" on allowable downstream partners later this month – sanctioned interpretations are official updates of the standard that are issued in place of a full standard revision. Members of the public as well as executives at certified companies will have a month to weigh in on the document before it becomes final.

According to Puckett, the interpretation being developed will list four "conditionally allowable" operations for CRT glass consumption: smelters Doe Run, Glencore and Teck Resources as well as the retrievable storage process of Kuusakoski and its partner Peoria Disposal Company.

A fifth outlet, Com2 Recycling Solutions in Illinois, is "under review," Puckett said, and has been given until the middle of the month to provide e-Stewards with new data related to the company's processing of CRT glass. The Com2 operation, which is currently considered a "preferred" option by e-Stewards, uses CRT glass in the manufacturing of ceramic tiles.

Preferred options under the standard are considered recycling. Puckett said if preferred options are not available, e-Stewards companies may then pursue conditionally allowable outlets, which are not considered recycling by the standard.

The status of other downstream options further complicates the narrative. Closed Loop Refining and Recovery, Dlubak Glass and Nulife Glass all currently stand as preferred options by e-Stewards, but Puckett said they will no longer be approved in the upcoming interpretation.

In addition, Camacho, a company that runs a CRT glass-to-tile operation in Spain, has not yet been approved by the standard, Puckett said.  He added the company is subject to approval based on its process and the products it makes from recovered glass.

He added Videocon's idling means "for the first time people will exercise the conditionally allowable option."

"We're very concerned about recyclers having good options available to them and whether those are preferred or conditional, we're going to make sure those options are there," Puckett said. "If we get a bunch of comments [from individuals] that perhaps want to reverse a decision we're making, we'll give them weight and consideration."

Changes ahead for R2?
While the R2 standard does not make determinations on specific downstream vendors, "the highest priority at the moment," SERI's leader Lingelbach said, is gathering the R2 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to discuss whether broader changes are needed.

"The TAC will have a discussion regarding CRT glass and whether the R2 standard is meeting the challenges that are currently facing the industry," Lingelbach said. "I think all options will be on the table for the TAC."

As it stands, the R2 standard requires companies to use only "recycling technologies," Lingelbach said, prohibiting retrievable storage and any form of disposal. In the event the TAC decides those options are not sufficient, the group could consider allowing glass to head down avenues R2 has opposed in the past, he said.

"If there isn't sufficient capacity, there would have to be an assessment or a decision made as to whether some sort of landfilling, whether it's retrievable storage or hazardous waste landfilling, would be acceptable," Lingelbach said.

He also said the TAC would discuss the efficacy of smelters when it comes to recovering lead from CRT glass as well as the status of facilities that are accepting material but have yet to install actual processing equipment. A timetable has not been set for those meetings.

"We recognize this is an extraordinarily difficult dynamic that the industry's facing at the moment and, being cognizant of that, we are working to do the right thing," Lingelbach said.

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