Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
Displays Earth Businesses Government United States

Some Recyclers Give Up On Recycling Old Monitors And TVs (vice.com) 274

An anonymous reader writes: "In many cases, your old TV isn't recycled at all and is instead abandoned in a warehouse somewhere, left for society to deal with sometime in the future," reports Motherboard, describing the problem of old cathode-ray televisions and computer monitors with "a net negative recycling value" (since their component parts don't cover the cost of dismantling them). An estimated 705 million CRT TVs were sold in the U.S. since 1980, and many now sit in television graveyards, "an environmental and economic disaster with no clear solution." As much as 100,000 tons of potentially hazardous waste are stockpiled in two Ohio warehouses of the now-insolvent recycler Closed Loop, plus "at least 25,000 tons of glass and unprocessed CRTs in Arizona...much of it is sitting in a mountainous pile outside one of the warehouses."
One EPA report found 23,000 tons of lead-containing CRT glass abandoned in four different states just in 2013.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Some Recyclers Give Up On Recycling Old Monitors And TVs

Comments Filter:
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:16PM (#53896739)

    I take my old monitors (CRT and LCD alike) to a place where I pay a somewhat hefty fee to recycle (I think around $20-$40). That's the best I can do to ensure they actually will be recycled, rather than taking it somewhere that supposedly would handle them for free... I do the same for pretty much any electronic device.

    I know that's no guarantee but you do the best you can. Besides, even a warehouse full of dead monitors that will basically just sit forever is still a way better scenario than having them polluting a landfill.

    • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:22PM (#53896771) Homepage

      What do you think the recycler does with them?

      • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:43PM (#53896859) Homepage

        What do you think the recycler does with them?

        in this case it would seem they take money to dispose of them, leave them in a rental warehouse, then walk away leaving the problem with the landlord and the city.
        A warehouse full of dead monitors will not just sit there "forever".

        • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @07:03PM (#53897207) Homepage

          A warehouse full of dead monitors will not just sit there "forever".

          In related news, a recent excavation in an Egyptian pyramid has turned up a trove of what appear to be ancient CRTs.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2017 @08:24PM (#53897545)

          Place I worked at once many years ago decided it was time to throw out the old computer hardware we'd just been stockpiling. It all went into a skip bin, and into a local land fill. There was no other way to get rid of it.

          I read the motherboard article a few days ago, the first paragraph had to glaring mistakes in it - 1) CRT's dont have "gas" in them, they hold a vacuum - hence the hissing sound if you carefully puncture the plate where the EHT line connects with something like a sharp screwdriver and a hammer (Yes I've done that). 2) If you knock the neck of wrong it can implode the entire tube, not explode it.

          I see they have corrected their article now about the "gas" at least :-)

          They also talked about the lead in the glass quite a bit, but never mention why its there, and thats to shield from X-Rays generated by the high acceleration voltage used in color CRTs (40kV or more) , Black and White CRTs didnt have this issue, and the glass didn't have lead in it.

        • A warehouse full of dead monitors will not just sit there "forever".

          Alas, no. Eventually someone would come into the warehouse, see all those dusty old monitors taking up space and a truck would roll up in the middle of the night, carrying them off to be dumped somewhere in the countryside.

      • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @08:43PM (#53897607) Homepage Journal

        As TFA https://motherboard.vice.com/e... [vice.com] says, half of them go to abandoned warehouses in the US. The other half go to Africa and India http://gizmodo.com/e-hell-on-e... [gizmodo.com] where low-paid, unprotected workers burn off the insulation and plastic parts to get the copper. I've seen articles about this in the New Scientist and elsewhere.

        • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @09:38AM (#53899465) Homepage Journal
          Mod Down! That's the biggest bullshit. I was at the so-called "largest e-waste dump" in Africa 3 weeks ago (my second visit). Total and complete hoax. World Bank data shows how many African city households had televisions 20 years ago (millions) and the major problem is that Africans aren't throwing them away - there are not enough of them burned, because they repair them forever. I don't like to throw the "racist" term around, but the fact that so many reporters repeated this false story about the "primitive" Africa Tech Sector is kind of telling. UK is the worst, actually put an African TV repairman in jail, citing 80% bullshit statistic at his hearing (which the NGO now admits was false).
          • by nbauman ( 624611 )

            Although I give a strong weight to first-hand testimony, I get my information from Science magazine, New Scientist, and the New York Times. For example:

            http://science.sciencemag.org/... [sciencemag.org]
            The Electronics Revolution: From E-Wonderland to E-Wasteland , Oladele A. Ogunseitan1,*, , Julie M. Schoenung2, , Jean-Daniel M. Saphores3 and , Andrew A. Shapiro4
            Science 30 Oct 2009:
            Vol. 326, Issue 5953, pp. 670-671
            DOI: 10.1126/science.1176929

            Since the mid-1990s, electronic waste (e-waste) has been recognized as the faste

      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @10:32PM (#53897893)

        What do you think the recycler does with them?

        I have no way of knowing.

        I do know that if I put a monitor in the trash it's going into the landfill with a 100% probability.

        If I take it to some some cheap or free place I know there's a pretty good chance it will go into a hellhole in some other country to decay and pollute everything.

        If I take it to the place I pay a decent fee there's the highest probability that something as good as possible may be done with it. That probability will never be 100%. But pay paying a reasonable fee I maximize that probability.

        Is your answer truly to just give up and not even try because you cannot know?

        • Locally, you can legally put a monitor out by the roadside trash - one monitor per household. The city or its designated collection service (varies depending on where in town you are) hauls it away and presumably it ends up in the city toxic waste recycling facility. I trust that they are going to do something responsible with it, although I've never investigated in detail. We mostly allocate our civic corruption to other endeavours so it's mainly a question of how thorough they are and how responsible the

        • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @02:29PM (#53901415) Journal

          The answer is to not buy new things because we don't know what to do with them later.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:26PM (#53896791)

      I pay a somewhat hefty fee to recycle (I think around $20-$40). That's the best I can do to ensure they actually will be recycled

      Why does you paying them make them more honest?
      How much fuel do you burn driving there and back?
      Like most recycling, this seems to be more about "feeling good" rather than actually helping the environment.

      Besides, even a warehouse full of dead monitors that will basically just sit forever is still a way better scenario than having them polluting a landfill.

      Except for all the resources that went into building the warehouse. Do you know how much CO2 is generated to make concrete?

      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @06:18PM (#53897015)

        Why does you paying them make them more honest?

        I don't, nor did I say so. Please read my post again.

        How much fuel do you burn driving there and back?

        As much as I would taking the monitor to any other place that would have taken them. I try to do electronics in a batch. But honestly you are missing the point entirely by saying anything about fuel use, which is a totally different vector than recycling. I don't care how much fuel I burn for anything (except of course for the cost of it which is real).

        Like most recycling, this seems to be more about "feeling good" rather than actually helping the environment.

        No it's exactly unlike feeling good. I take it to a place I think offers the greatest percentage of the monitor no ending up in a river somewhere which is good for no-one.

        Except for all the resources that went into building the warehouse.

        Irrelevant comment; see my comment re: fuel. Resources do not matter as much as residual pollution does.

        Do you know how much CO2 is generated to make concrete?

        Again, not relevant since CO2 is not pollution and the argument against CO2 is a totally different one than against real pollution. Nature loves and uses CO2 (do you even know how plants live???)

        • Why does you paying them make them more honest?

          I don't, nor did I say so. Please read my post again.

          You don't pay? Or you don't think they're more honest?

          If the latter, then why pay?

          I'm a bit confused about what you're trying to say.

          • You don't pay? Or you don't think they're more honest?

            I already said what I think in the subject of my reply - all it does is increases the odds. There's never a guarantee.

            • Well, you CAN get a "guarantee". You can throw it into the river yourself. Then you are guaranteed it is NOT recycled. I know you are looking for the opposite outcome, but at least you will have a non-ambiguous result.
              • You can throw it into the river yourself. Then you are guaranteed it is NOT recycled.

                Part of what I do as a hobby is take disgusting trash out of rivers and throw it away in a more appropriate way...

                If I saw a monitor in a river then in fact I would pull out the thing and take it to a recycler myself.

                This is not out of any love of nature as it would not cause that much harm on its won just sitting there slowly decaying, purely aesthetics.

                So even there you cannot be sure of what will happen to the monitor.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Again, not relevant since CO2 is not pollution and the argument against CO2 is a totally different one than against real pollution. Nature loves and uses CO2 (do you even know how plants live???)

          Do you feel the same way about shit, I mean fertilizer? Nature loves and uses shit (do you even know how plants live???)
          Probably was repeated back when the germ theory of disease was advanced and scientists wanted to spend money on wells far away from the cesspools. Surprised people still aren't bitching that the germ theory is not settled science as science always means being skeptical and not spending money on stupid stuff like keeping drinking water separate from healthy plant fertilizer.

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @06:32PM (#53897083) Journal
        not getting lead into the ground water isn't about feeling good, it's about not poisoning ourselves
      • by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <sydbarrett74&gmail,com> on Sunday February 19, 2017 @07:40PM (#53897335)
        Recycling absolutely helps the environment. The fact that things happen like what's mentioned in the article says something about externalities and other market failures, rather than serving as an indictment of recycling per se.
      • Do you know how much CO2 is generated to make concrete

        How much CO2 is generated mining ore to retrieve lead and other metals present in a CRT, or drilling and refining the petroleum to make virgin plastic, as opposed to reusing what has already been extracted from the earth? This is to say nothing of turning a patch of land into a lunar landscape after the mining company has moved elsewhere.

    • "I take my old monitors (CRT and LCD alike) to a place where I pay a somewhat hefty fee to recycle (I think around $20-$40). That's the best I can do to ensure they actually will be recycled, rather than taking it somewhere that supposedly would handle them for free... I do the same for pretty much any electronic device."

      There IS no place that disposes of CRTs for free. If you do pay for environmentally proper disposal, they end up in the warehouse pile described in the article, in hope that someone at some

      • There IS no place that disposes of CRTs for free.

        In California, we pay for recycling when we buy electronics. The flip side of that deal is that we don't pay when we dispose of electronics, regardless of age. We just take them to the transfer station and leave them in a pile. This is cool for me because I get electronics cheaply from the Salvation Army, go through them for interesting parts, check the router database or whatever, and then recycle whatever I don't want for free.

      • There IS no place that disposes of CRTs for free.

        From time to time there are collection drives that take in some kind of hard to recycle material for free, from time to time there are ones that take TV sets.

        • My city does this every few years, and they still charge $20 for 28" and down, $35 for over. I got rid of the last one we had -- a color-corrected display my son had used for graphics design -- at one of their events maybe five years ago. It was an awesome sort of sight seeing all the pallets full of old TVs and monitors. If you had one of those 1960s fine-wood consoles they sent you to a special line -- there is apparently a market for those with the old electronics and display replaced with new.
        • This service [swancc.org] is available for FREE to residents of Northern Cook County in Illinois.
          In addition to having a year-round drop off available, SWANCC has local "bulk electronics day" pickup for several towns.

          That being said, it is FREE to me, as in: I don't pay directly to drop off the CRT.
          But SWANCC is paid by a taxpayer fund to take the stuff and deal with it.
          They take the stuff to COM 2 Recycling [com2recycling.com] who is PAID to take it and break it down and deal with it unlike the company in the parent post.

          • I thought it went without saying that "free" meant free to me...

            Even the place I pay for recycling is subsidized by government funds to recycle the stuff. But an extra payment on top of that, just as with any bribe, helps insure better service.

    • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @08:31PM (#53897569) Homepage Journal

      Besides, even a warehouse full of dead monitors that will basically just sit forever is still a way better scenario than having them polluting a landfill.

      Landfills are designed to hold pollution for a long time. If they follow current environmental regulations, they're in a clay pit which is impermeable to any significant leakage. When they're filled, they're covered with a clay top which keeps the rain out. The main goal for leaded glass is to make sure they don't wind up in the drinking water. There are Roman trash heaps which have lasted undisturbed for 2,000 years.

      There aren't too many warehouses that have survived 100 years.

      • True that landfills are pretty good ways to keep even dangerous trash long-term. But there are two good reasons to recycle some things anyway:

        1) Bulk. Nice not have to have create a new giant clay pit, so try to fill up the existing one as slowly as possible. Especially CRT's are very bulky.

        2) Easier access to rare materials. It's nice to be able to reuse various materials from electronics that are either somewhat rare or expensive to obtain. Of course the process of extraction when not done right creat

        • by l810c ( 551591 )

          This is why I am not worried about landfills.

          Eventually(Sometime in the next 20 years), there will be technology to Mine landfills.

          Every scrap of copper, aluminium and rare metals will be extracted from the waste piles. The rest will be turned into energy.

          Someone will come up with technology to make it profitable.

          I am certain of it.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      to a place where I pay a somewhat hefty fee to recycle (I think around $20-$40).

      Bubba's gravel pit and rifle range.

    • I have mine on my floor. It's a bit too heavy to carry by myself safely. So I've been putting it off.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:17PM (#53896749) Homepage Journal

    Chuck it all in the Grand Canyon. Plenty of room in there, believe me folks, it's yuuuuge.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      The EPA may need to step in if...

      Oh, sorry. That was the before time in the long long ago. The new Environmental Destruction Agency (EDA) will just dump them in somebody's river.

  • send em to Hawaii (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 )
    and drop em in to molten lava at that volcano since it is hot enough to melt even glass & metal that way there wont be nothing left even the toxic material will be burnt and encapsulated with lava rock when it cools
    • by crow ( 16139 )

      Assuming that would work, it would be quite difficult to do so on an industrial scale safely and efficiently. How do you get the trash into the lava? You can't build a road above it to dump them in. Dropping them in by helicopter, one shipping container at a time, might be possible, but I'm not sure how safe or efficient that would be. Probably the best bet would be to determine where the lava is likely to flow in a future eruption, and just build a big warehouse there to store them until it comes.

      Now I

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Given the sulphuric nature of lava as well as halogens, contribution to acid raid is the least of your problems.

    • Ok, so that OP's idea won't work,  although it was creative.

      How about a similar solution.

      Encase the offending components in something  (glass?)  and position that in such a way that it gets folded into a subduction zone.  Then it gets melted into the earth - kind of like where it came from anyway.

      Would something like that work ?
  • So as long as you keep the lead from escaping into groundwater (could bury them in a landfill with a clay or plastic lining in a big mountain), this is fine. If lead prices are so cheap that it's easier to mine new lead than it is to recycle it from CRT glass, and ditto the prices for the other elements in the CRTs (I assume the copper wiring got ripped out right away), then oh fucking well. Invisible hand at work - just need to make sure the storage of the CRTs is adequate to contain the toxic lead.

    And y

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      So as long as you keep the lead from escaping into groundwater (could bury them in a landfill with a clay or plastic lining in a big mountain), this is fine. If lead prices are so cheap that it's easier to mine new lead than it is to recycle it from CRT glass,

      True, and true, with reservations. Somebody has got to pay for keeping the lead from escaping into groundwater. Should it be everyone, or the people who benefited from the use of the lead?

      And if everyone pays, human nature being what it is people will pay to make the problem "go away" without looking too closely at the details, where "go away" includes "making it someone else's problem."

      The thing is, if you could completely internalize all those expenses so the cost of dealing with never just "went away",

  • six years ago, a group of college students (for class credit) followed a CRT TV (GPS unit embedded ) from recycle bin to its final destination. it was never recycled since the GPS continued to work. they lost the signal after it left San Juan when it was sent outside the USA.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      six years ago, a group of college students (for class credit) followed a CRT TV (GPS unit embedded ) from recycle bin to its final destination. it was never recycled
      since the GPS continued to work. they lost the signal after it left San Juan when it was sent outside the USA.

      How much do you want to make a bet it landed in the Atlantic Ocean?

  • One serious use is as 'practice victims' for beginning newbies to electronics to play with, as practice in the dextrous tasks of dismantling, identifying, etc, and in the fun you can have in reusing what works. Playing with broke stuff frees you from the risk of expensive mistakes.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      While I agree with the basic idea, monitors aren't ideal because they use very high voltages and are quite dangerous. Better to learn with something safer.

  • If someone finds a viable way to recycle these things, then it still only viable because there are a lot of them concentrated in a single place.
  • Yucca Mountain (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crow ( 16139 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:34PM (#53896829) Homepage Journal

    Well, if they're not filling it with radioactive waste, why not store other junk in the caves at Yucca Mountain?

    • Not enough space. Yucca was for the comparatively low volume of nuclear fuel rod waste, not nearly as voluminous as the worlds CRT and electronic waste. Not even close.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Emissions. You need to check that gas won't build up as things decompose, for example. Also stuff leaking into the ground.

      It could work, you just need to check.

  • by eyenot ( 102141 ) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Sunday February 19, 2017 @05:43PM (#53896861) Homepage

    A volunteer can easily tear apart 4 of these per hour if given proper training, tools, and work area. I am pretty sure if the labor cost of separating out glass, boards, copper, and other components were zero, then the net return would no longer be negative. And there are plenty of people who need to clock some verified community service and/or other volunteer time; and hundreds of times more people who want to do it just to feel good about themselves.

    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      at that rate, you will need 22,000 man-years to eliminate them.
  • Some of use retro computer enthusiasts actually collect and will pay money for CRTs and monitors. Of course they have to be certain kinds, but there's gold in some of them dar monitors. A high quality CRT will also fetch some decent money.
  • This is one of the times I think the EPA could do a lot of good by picking a site out west, setting up a furnace and simply grinding and melting these down to then refine out the lead and other metals. They should run it themselves, not contracting it out, and accept all CRTs and e-waste that make it to the loading dock, for free, no questions asked.

    • We know that the Russians still do nuclear tests. At some point, maybe even we will. Either case, ship these to the site where the test will be done, dump all the stuff into the hole that the test will be carried out, and then do the test. That stuff will become a part of the earth's mass, never to rise again

      • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

        "We know that the Russians still do nuclear tests"

        LOL How exactly do you "KNOW" that? Is this the latest conspiracy theory from nutty left-leaning websites intent on pushing the "evil Russians" narrative?

        The Russians did their last tests in the late 1980s. The USA and USSR signed the "Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty" circa 1990. There has been no nuclear testing by either country since then, even underground. A nuclear explosion isn't something you can do secretly. There is a seismographic monit

  • Either you tax products made of un-recycled parts up to the point that recycling becomes profitable, or you publicly fund free recycling. We see a lot more of the latter, but I'd prefer the former approach -- a lot of people won't bother to recycle for free but will bother to recycle if businesses are offering them money for it.

  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @06:23PM (#53897041)

    I just put mine in a cardboard box with a random address on it and taped up to look like it's brand new, valuable and awaiting pickup by a courier or freight company -- and then leave it on the street outside my house.

    Within hours -- it's gone.

    Then it's the thief's problem :-)

  • I replaced my 12-year-old 26" CRT TV with a 48" 4K HDTV that I got from Costco for $350 this past holiday season. I'm waiting for my apartment complex to have its semi-annual recycle weekend to drop off the CRT. According to the flyer, the recycler accept mainframes. I have yet to seen anyone turn in a mainframe.
  • Bad Waste Policy (Score:5, Informative)

    by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @06:24PM (#53897051) Homepage Journal

    I'm a professional CRT recycler with experience with the companies in the article. The leaded silicate in CRT glass can actually be valuable as a fluxing agent. It's basically the same as anglesite, the leaded quartz that's mined worldwide. But because of e-waste alarmism (e.g. original article said they were full of "toxic gases", still says the CRTs "explode"), the primary copper and lead smelting industries stopped accepting the material. I personally managed several hundred tons of cullet from one on the companies in the article, but the smelter didn't like the regulators and environmentalists poking around, or the red tape. So they went back to mining lead and silica from the ground. Here's an article I wrote about the "no good deed goes unpunished" aspects of CRT glass recycling. resource-recycling.com/pdfs/Ingenthron0316e.pdf Previously I wrote one - also published in Motherboard - about how Asian refurbishers stopped buying CRTs from America for the same reason (they were being cast as "primitive wire burners). motherboard.vice.com/2011/3/26/e-waste-recycling-exports-are-good

    A good rule of thumb is that the worst forms of recycling are better for the environment than the best forms of hard rock metal mining. But "waste" policy says the opposite, waste is a "liability" for the consuming industry, mined material is subsidized.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I'm looking for a working Commodore 1084S monitor. If one comes in let me know, I'll pay shipping plus 20 bucks.

  • by MoarSauce123 ( 3641185 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @06:29PM (#53897069)
    In the EU, the vendors, merchants, and manufacturers are required by law to take that stuff back and give proof of proper professional recycling. Any store that sells such devices is required to take any device (no matter if it was bought there or not) back for recycling, no questions asked and no fees allowed. Sure, cost of new devices might increase a bit, but not as much given that there is still plenty of competition. It compels manufacturers also to design and build devices in such a way that they are easy and cheap to recycle. Plus, in the EU such devices have a minimum of 2 years manufacturer warranty....unlike the US where stuff is made only as good as necessary to circumvent lemon laws.
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      This is what actually happens in the EU: You buy the stuff in other member states of the EU that don't worry about giving worthless pieces of paper away or that have a waiver from the EU which allows them to just export it to Asia.

      This issues surrounding 'cheaper' stuff in other EU states is so prevalent that electronics stores in Western areas are often no longer feasible and many over the last few years, even web shops that had been known for decades for being "cheap", shut down.

      Manufacturers don't make a

  • Pick it all up, and deliver to:
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA

  • The lead isn't going to leak out of these things. It's essentially inert.
    The demand just isn't there. Same with scrap metal. My local scrap metal place doesn't pay anything for scrap steel anymore.
    The Iraq war created a lot of demand for scrap steel.
    You'd think that lead recycling would be in demand given that the last US lead smelter closed in 2013 but perhaps manufactured products using lead are all made overseas.

  • by felixrising ( 1135205 ) on Sunday February 19, 2017 @08:01PM (#53897451)
    Similar to the End of Life Vehicles Directive in the EU, Similar to the German End-of-Life Vehicles Act of 2002 [bmub.bund.de] (extended from a similar law in 1997). Manufacturers are responsible for recycling their vehicle at the vehicles end of life, this means manufacturers design their cars to be more easily recycled and means any overhead costs are built into the cost of the car up-front. There is no good reason that this shouldn't be the case for any larger or common products, why should the cost of recycling be deferred until the product has reached end of life, no consumer will pay more money to have their product recycled *after* it is useless.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig

Working...