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Emergency regulation increases recycling options for waste Cathode Ray Tubes

The Department of Toxic Substances Control has issued an emergency regulation that will increase the recycling and disposal options for waste Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) and CRT glass.

CRTs are commonly found in old television sets and computer monitors and must be managed as hazardous waste (due to their content of lead and other hazardous chemicals) when the product no longer is used for its intended purpose. In the past, much of the old CRT glass was recycled to make new CRTs.

As consumers increasingly switch to flat screen TVs and computer monitors, CRT use has been phased out and the demand for CRT glass has fallen. This makes it increasingly difficult for California recyclers to find markets willing to accept and recycle the CRT glass into new products. In 2011 alone, nearly 100 million pounds of residual CRT glass were generated by recyclers dismantling TVs and monitors.

One consequence of the diminished demand is that large quantities of CRT glass are now being stored and accumulated throughout California. Failure to tackle this issue may result in widespread mismanagement of the material. This poses an environmental hazard and is the main impetus behind the emergency regulation proposed by DTSC.

In recent years, as newer video display technologies have supplanted CRTs, the number of CRT manufacturing facilities in the world has dropped significantly due to the lack of demand. There are no CRT manufacturers in the United States.

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