May 18, 2010
Recycling CRT monitors and televisions is not an easy task but it is a very important one. At present there’s a real problem with recycling cathode ray tubes because of the high levels of lead and other metal oxides that are contained within the glass. A recent government project (funded by the Dept for Trade and Industry recycling programme) on recycling CRT monitors and TVs carried out by Glass Technology Services ran tests using smelting and electrolysis to remove metal oxides from the glass.
There is a drive to recycle all CRTs apart from PC monitors because they are likely to stay in the landfill for at least 25 years. When CRTs are sent to landfill and the glass is crushed there is a danger that the leaking metal oxide will go into the ground water. Under a European directive, CRTs are classified as hazardous waste, which makes it costly to dispose of in landfill and causes problems for exporting the CRTs to non-OECD countries.
At the moment there are problems with recycling CRT glass, other than that from PC monitors or from glass in the process of CRT assembly because of the cost involved. While the study showed that it is possible to reduce the amount of lead from CRT glass using electrolysis and smelting, it cannot deal with all of the lead. The study found that further research into recycling CRT monitors and TVs should concentrate on finding methods of reusing the glass in suitable ways and if this was impossible, then finding ways to reduce levels of heavy metal oxides should be looked at again.