The lengthy recycling process is an important one that prevents lead from seeping into soil and drinking water.
With all of the fancy new flat-screen TVs popping up, so many of us are getting rid of our old TV sets. But, what exactly are you supposed to do with them?
If you are looking to recycle a TV that contains a cathode ray tube we are here to help, and you will want to listen. After all, most CRTs contain lead that is harmful to the planet.
First, let’s break down why a CRT monitor contains lead. To keep it short and sweet, HowStuffWorks reports that lead “improves the optical quality of the glass” and shields against radiation. Unfortunately, lead causes lead poisoning, and it is therefor important to keep it out of landfills. Some CRT monitors can contain between 4 and 7 pounds of lead. This is where recycling comes in handy.
In addition to keeping toxins out of the environment, what does the CRT TV monitor process entail? Let’s break it down.
- The TV’s plastic shell is removed, which exposes the glass, chipboards, glass tube, electron gun and wiring.
- Each part is made up of different materials, which are removed, sorted and sent off on separate recycling journeys. Most parts, like metals (copper, gold, iron, steel and others), are refined, sold and reused as new materials.
- The glass tube has a vacuum seal. Inside, the glass is coated with phosphorus that is eventually removed, allowing the glass to be recycled.
- About 20% of lead (by weight) is within the glass. This leaded glass is smelted, and then can be used for new CRT monitors.
It is a complicated sequence, so be sure to watch this video, which details the full process.
You do not want to just throw away your old CRT TV monitor and let it sit in a landfill. Lead can eventually seep out, causing quite a disturbance to the environment. Just in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 22.7 million TVs were disposed of in the U.S., with only 4.6 million collected for recycling.
Be sure to check out our recycling location finder and see which centers accept CRT monitors — some will not, mainly for environmental reasons.
Furthermore, if you are not looking for a particular recycling center, CRT monitors can also be legally exported for reuse purposes. Here is a list of companies that are approved to export these TVs for reuse.