California stakeholders debate options for CRT glass

California stakeholders debate options for CRT glass

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

CalRecycle hosted a meeting yesterday to discuss potential changes to the covered electronic waste program as it relates to CRT glass processing, with representatives of the recycling community taking the opportunity to voice their frustration with the current program.

Moderator Jeff Hunts of CalRecycle opened the meeting by outlining the state of CRT glass recycling in California. Since the program began in 2006, over 1.4 billion pounds of covered electronics have been recycled, with CRT glass accounting for approximately 99 percent of that amount by weight. Hunts also said that CalRecycle estimates an equal amount of non-covered electronics have also been collected in the state over the same period.

According to CalRecycle, problems have developed relating to the processing of residual glass. In order to receive payment from the state, a processor in California must ship glass to a destination authorized to receive and further treat the material. This has resulted in some material simply moving to different locations within the same city to satisfy the transportation requirements for payment. When material is processed, it increasingly relies on export destinations – primarily those in Mexico and India. As display technology has shifted firmly away from CRTs, the supply of CRT glass has far outpaced the demand. Additionally, many of the furnaces used to process CRT glass are no longer in operation.

Against that backdrop, the California Department of Toxic Substance Control changed the rules regulating CRT processing and disposition last October. In the meeting yesterday, stakeholders from CRT recycling industry in California shared their perspectives on a possible rule change to remove limits on CRT glass recycling and disposal, and encourage the development of new markets and products that utilize CRT glass.

"We need to move forward and realize the market has changed," said Dennis Kazarian, vice president at e-Recycling of California. "I am personally concerned that a lot of material is sitting in places where it won't see further processing. If there are other ways to process this material and protect ourselves we should do that. We've already seen some recyclers walk away from the glass and have had to clean it up. We should give ourselves every option available."

Others were not so eager to rewrite the rules, however.

"We must oppose anything that allows for the disposal of CRT glass," said Teresa Bui of Californians Against Waste. "Californians pay for the recycling of material and it would be environmentally damaging and against their expectations to allow for the glass to go to landfill."

While everyone agreed that specialized landfilling processes were not ideal, there was widespread sentiment that the current laws in the Golden State do little to encourage innovation to address the problem from a market perspective.

"The issue of developing new markets for the panel glass has been complicated and DTSC has not been helpful," said Bill McGeever, vice president of operations for ECS Refining. "The fact that this material is only considered hazardous in California and nowhere else is a significant barrier to making new products and developing new end markets for it. We've put ourselves into a corner."

All sides in the debate at the meeting concluded that if change were to come to the program, it would need to be developed in the state legislature. Many in attendance hoped the ideas and proposals discussed at the meeting could be used to persuade lawmakers to open up the issue.

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