CEA releases study on remaining CRT tonnages

CEA releases study on remaining CRT tonnages

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

April 18, 2014

A new survey by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) suggests there are approximately 3.5 million tons of CRT TVs and computers still in U.S. households.

That figure, based off of telephone interviews with 1,023 adults throughout the country and determined by the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER), is well below prior estimates. A white paper commissioned by Kuusakoski U.S. and released last fall estimates there are 6.2 million tons of CRT devices left to process over the next 10 years — nearly twice as much as CEA's finding.

The Kuusakoski study includes CRT devices from homes, businesses and institutions, whereas the CEA study looks only at the residential CRT stream — explaining, at least in part, the wide disparity between the two estimates.

Jason Linnell, NCER's executive director, also told E-Scrap News past studies, including Kuusakoski's, relied on older, sales-focused models developed by the U.S. EPA that represented "the best available [methodology] at the time." New survey findings by CEA "generally correlate" with a more recent study, and a somewhat controversial one, penned by MIT, NCER and the Material System Laboratory, Linnell says.

"It may be that consumers are disposing of old CRT units at a slightly more rapid pace … which could bring down the 'available CRT' numbers below previous projections," Linnell stated, adding the survey "depends on consumers understanding what is a 'tube TV' and 'tube monitor' and then accurately relating how many of those units are still in their home."

Less than half of CEA study respondents — 46 percent — said they still used or stored at least one CRT device. About 41 percent said they had recycled a CRT device.

Arriving at an accurate estimate of how many CRTs remain in the U.S. has emerged as an important point for the host of CRT recycling ventures starting to enter the market. Most industry players have operated under the assumption that nearly 400,000 tons of CRT glass - with glass accounting for about 62 percent of the overall weight of a CRT device - will need processing in the U.S. each year for the next decade.

If CEA's new figure is more accurate, approximately 2.17 million tons of CRT glass remains for processing in the U.S., or 217,000 tons every year. "This is still an awful lot of CRTs," Linnell noted.

Speaking at the ISRI Convention last week in Las Vegas, CEA's vice president of environmental affairs, Walter Alcorn, echoed that sentiment. "There are still a lot of CRTs out there. ... Six billion pounds of CRT TVs and 1 billion pounds of CRT monitors," Alcorn said. "But it's not infinite. This too shall pass, in terms of the CRT stream."

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