Keeping E-Waste Out of Landfills One Bill at a Time

Remember those old bulky TV’s? Just because they have largely been replaced by flat panel and LCD television doesn’t mean they’ve all disappeared. Many are still stored in the attic, guest bedroom, gathering dust until they make their way to an e-waste recycler.

For the last few years  in California the only paths for recycling the glass that comes with old bulky Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) TVs and monitors are lead smelting, glass-to-glass recycling (manufacturing more CRT devices), or hazardous waste landfills. Many e-waste recyclers in California have been resorting to disposal ever since the world’s only CRT glass-to-glass recycling operation in India has shut down and reopened, leaving many concerned with their reliability. Lead smelting is only an option for a small volume of CRT glass due to smelting’s low capacity. According to a state report, 21.8 million pounds of CRT glass handled in California has been disposed of since January 1st, 2016 instead of being recycled.

That is unfortunate because a large chunk of CRT glass (known as CRT panel glass) is recyclable.

Not only is this material not being recycled but e-waste recyclers are either stockpiling this material or paying for the disposal instead of achieving the true benefit of recycling which is replacing virgin materials. In some cases this has caused e-waste recyclers to go out of business. When an e-waste recycler shuts down, it not only affects the employees of that business but also the nearby residents who rely on that recycler to take care of their community’s e-waste.

A CAW-sponsored bill, AB 1419 by Assemblymember Susan Eggman, recently signed into law by Governor Brown will bring new recycling opportunities for panel glass, which is the largest portion of CRT devices. This bill allows for specified end-uses of panel glass, after it’s been cleaned and processed, for use in new products such as tiles. Keeping electronic waste out of landfills allows valuable resources to continue circulating in the economy, lessening the need to mine or manufacture more material. Recyclers will now have a newly allowed recycling path for CRT glass, helping to keep their businesses open and providing Californians with the essential service of e-waste recycling.