The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has issued an emergency regulation designed to increase the recycling and disposal options for cathode ray tubes (CRT) and CRT glass collected by recyclers in the state.
CRTs are managed as hazardous waste because they contain lead and other hazardous chemicals. Traditionally, glass from older CRTs was recycled to make new CRTs. In 2011, nearly 100 million pounds of residual CRT glass was generated by recyclers dismantling televisions and monitors in the state, according to the DTSC.
However, the DTSC says that as consumers switch to flat-screen television sets and computer monitors, demand for CRT glass has fallen, making it more difficult for California recyclers to find markets to accept and recycle CRT glass into new products.
As a result, large quantities of CRT glass are being stored and accumulated throughout the state, the DTSC says. Failure to address the issue may result in widespread mismanagement of the material, which ultimately poses an environmental hazard and is the main impetus behind the emergency regulation proposed by DTSC.
“The requirements currently in place that pertain to CRT disposal were established at a time when there was a robust demand for CRT glass by legitimate recycling facilities,” says Karl Palmer, chief of DTSC’s Toxics in Products Program. “This demand has shrunk to almost zero, leaving recyclers with few options, and increasing the likelihood of mismanagement and the subsequent release of hazardous chemicals, including lead, into the environment. This regulation will encourage the development of new recycling technologies and, where recycling is not feasible, it will put in place a process and requirements that will allow safe disposal of CRT glass.”
The emergency regulation lifts some constraints under the universal waste rules for CRT glass. If recyclers are unable to find a recycling option for their used CRTs, they may send them to an appropriate landfill for disposal if they meet the conditions summarized below:
- CRT glass must be handled in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment.
- Funnel glass, which contains high amounts of lead, must be sent to a hazardous waste landfill. These are landfills that are specially constructed to ensure that material containing chemicals do not escape into the environment and thus protects the public and the environment.
- Panel glass, which contains lower amounts of lead, may be sent to a solid waste landfill if testing the waste shows there is no risk of lead leaching out into the environment.
The emergency regulation will remain in effect for two years. It requires recyclers to document the recycling and disposal of their CRTs and CRT glass, allowing DTSC to effectively enforce the regulations when necessary. Recyclers that have stored CRTs or CRT glass for longer than six months upon the effective date of the emergency regulations will receive an additional six months to send the material to an authorized destination.