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Recycling Cathode Ray Tubes

By Kate Torzewski |

As CRTs become an obsolete form of video display technology, recycling their lead-filled glass is increasingly important Earlier this decade, liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma screens surpassed cathode ray tubes (CRTs) as the visual display of choice in computers and televisions. While the production of CRTs has dwindled to nearly nothing, we will still deal with end-of-life (EoL) units for years to come. CRTs are being disposed of at an alarming rate, overwhelming landfills with toxic amounts of lead. The implementation of proper processing methods for lead-containing glass is critical to the environmentally safe and economically viable recycling of EoL CRTs. A study conducted by the National Safety Council (Itasca, Ill.; www.nsc.org) estimates that 20.6 million computers became obsolete in 1998, of which only 11% were recycled. The problem has potential to get worse, as Chris Harris of the International Association of Electronics Recyclers (ISRI; Washington, D.C.; www.isri.org) shows in a September 2008 report on electronic scrap management. For the rest of this decade, it is predicted that the number of outdated computers will increase by 100 million annually as a result of increased consumption and decreasing product lifespans. Figure…
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