EPA Revises Standards For Recycling Cathode Ray Tubes

In an effort to increase the collection and recycling of cathode ray tubes (CRT), EPA announced on July 19 that it is simplifying the federal hazardous waste management requirements for CRTs and CRT glass destined for recycling.

Under these new regulations, used, unbroken CRTs are not regulated as hazardous waste unless they are stored for more than a year. EPA is setting simpler, more manageable standards for unbroken CRTs because the risk of lead releases from them is very low. Limited storage requirements apply only to CRT recyclers and collectors, officials said.

"A discarded CRT represents an opportunity lost," said EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. "This rule will help encourage the reuse and recycling of CRTs, which puts these resources back to productive use, rather than into the nation's landfills."

CRTs are the video display components of televisions and computer monitors. The glass in CRTs typically contains enough lead to require managing it as hazardous waste under certain circumstances. Under the previous regulations, businesses and other organizations that recycle or dispose of CRTs were sometimes unclear about the proper way to recycle or dispose of this equipment. That uncertainty sometimes prevented CRTs from being recycled and reused. EPA is changing CRT waste management requirements to eliminate this confusion so that more CRTs will be reused and recycled. About 57 million computers and televisions are sold in the United States annually, although many new models may not contain CRTs.

Used, broken CRTs are not regulated as hazardous waste as long as certain good-housekeeping practices are followed. To remain unregulated, CRTs undergoing glass processing must follow the same simplified requirements, except that they must be processed so that lead from the glass is not volatilized. CRT glass that has been processed and sent to a CRT glass manufacturer or a lead smelter also is unregulated, as long as it is kept in storage less than a year.

Exporters shipping broken or unbroken CRTs to another country for recycling must notify EPA and receive written consent from the receiving country through EPA before shipments can be made. This requirement is similar to those applicable to exporters of hazardous waste, which are found at 40 CFR Part 262. In addition, exporters shipping used, unbroken CRTs for reuse as computers to another country must submit a one-time notification to EPA.

Additional information on the new regulations can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/electron/crt.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.