CRTs (Cathode Ray Tubes) for a time were the standard for television and personal computer screens. Now the CRT monitor has become obsolete. Recycling a CRT monitor is not the easiest process. Companies must be careful when disposing of CRTs due to the lead located in the funnel glass. These materials in the CRTs are considered hazardous. Disposing of the funnel glass comes at a cost. Unwilling to pay, some recyclers choose to dump the monitors in landfills or export them to other countries. After a while, the hazardous materials begin to leach into the soil and pollute the environment.
In recent years, many California recyclers were caught improperly disposing of their CRTs. In 2016, a large California-based recycler dumped close to 8 million pounds of CRT funnel glass in landfills. Several other California e-waste recyclers were also caught dumping their CRTs in landfills. Some of the companies even had a no landfill pledge on their website. The recyclers are claiming the market and regulations forced them to landfill CRTs.
Outside of California, recyclers from other states have gotten into serious trouble dumping their CRTs. An electronics recycling company based in Sioux City, Iowa was forced to stop accepting CRTs earlier this year. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources would not renew the company’s CRT permit until they followed Iowa state and federal guidelines. In 2015, a Kentucky-based company was suspended as an R2 certified recycler and withdrew from the eStewards certification process. The suspensions were the aftermath of the Georgetown recycler burying CRTs in a 10 feet deep hole. That same year, a Minnesota-based processing company was fined $125,000. The processing company stored 2,500 tons of crushed CRT glass in over 100 semi-trailers.
Companies can also be imprisoned for not following regulations. A Michigan e-scrap broker may face jail time and a fine of $250,000. The broker illegally exported CRTs to Asia.
Many recyclers continue to dump their CRTs in landfills, although they are conscious of the consequences. To ensure your CRTs are properly disposed of partner with an e-Stewards and R2 certified recycler. If a recycler is e-Stewards and R2 certified they pledge to not dump CRTs in landfills and also to dispose of all IT equipment safely and ethically.