California Governor Signs Bill Enabling CRT Glass Recycling

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill proposed by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) to enable the recycling of cathode ray tube (CRT) glass, found in now obsolete televisions and monitors.

The growing availability and affordability of digital flat screen TVs and monitors has rendered CRT technology obsolete in the U.S. As people upgrade to digital displays, they discard their old televisions and monitors.

The process of recycling scrap CRT monitors and televisions produces two different types of glass: funnel glass, which contains high levels of lead as well as low and non-leaded panel glass. The current state regulations limit the options for recycling this glass to smelting, glass-to-glass recycling for the production of new CRTs, or landfill disposal.

And the market for CRT glass is shrinking. The India-based company Videocon, the last manufacturer of CRTs, uses as much as 57 percent of the scrap funnel and panel glass disposed of in California, but it’s unclear how much longer they will remain open.

Without alternative uses, many U.S. recyclers have resorted to simply landfilling or stockpiling CRT glass – an estimated 17 million pounds of CRT glass are stockpiled in California alone.

“We have to keep pace with changes in technology that can suddenly create significant new sources of waste,” Eggman said. “There are uses out there for scrap CRT glass that can keep it out of landfills – all we have to do is allow them under the law so these markets can flourish.”

Eggman’s bill, AB 1419, would allow scrap CRT panel glass to be used in many new products where it is determined to pose no harm, including tile and radiation shielding glass. The bill also allows state agencies to identify additional end-uses of the material, and to prohibit any previously allowed uses if needed.

“The e-waste recycling industry is struggling on dual fronts with record low commodity markets and lack of allowable end-uses for CRT panel glass,” said Teresa Bui, senior analyst for Californians Against Waste, the sponsor of the bill. “AB 1419 will help open up recycling markets in California, and reduce the need for extracting raw materials.”

AB 1419 passed the legislature with bipartisan support and enjoyed support from local government, environmental groups and the state’s recycling industry.

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