Responding to what it calls a dearth of reliable downstream processors of CRT funnel glass, the state of California will allow the lead-laden material to head to hazardous waste disposal facilities.
Formally announced in an emergency regulatory action issued on Aug. 21, the decision on the part of California regulators calls on companies participating in the state’s electronics recycling program to first seek out recycling outlets for the glass “to the extent economically feasible.”
California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) administers the program. Jeff Hunts, the agency employee who manages the program, said California has had concerns about downstream handling of the state’s CRT glass.
“We’ve been looking at global glass markets, wringing our hands that glass was piling up in different places. … We know there’s a significant amount of California glass in Arizona, and we had questions about what was happening with the glass that was going to India,” Hunts said. “We felt we had reached the place where we need the safety valve.”
Handling CRTs has posed a challenge to state programs throughout the country. Recently, the state of Illinois passed a bill allowing companies to store CRT glass in a cell on the grounds of a solid waste landfill for “future recovery.” The move was opposed by a group of recycling firms claiming downstream recycling options existed for Illinois’ glass.
According to Hunts, the only “legal pathway” for leaded CRT glass beyond recycling will be hazardous waste disposal sites in California. While he confirmed that non-hazardous and cleaned panel glass may go to a variety of landfills, Hunts said “leaded glass will never go to a municipal waste solid landfills in California.”
Hunts added firms will face “a significant cost” to move glass to hazardous waste facilities. E-scrap companies that do decide to use hazardous waste landfills, however, will still receive the full amount paid by the state to handle the material.
California’s e-scrap program is funded by an advanced recycling fee paid by consumers purchasing new electronic devices.
As of June 2014, California paid 44 cents per pound of processed CRTs, or about $22 for a 50-pound device.
Hunts also noted data suggest the state is making progress when it comes to moving through the major tonnages of CRT devices that have long sat in basements and closets across California.
“I believe we are definitely passed the peak and are on a slow, downward path,” Hunts said.