Ghosts of Technology’s Past
A major trend in technology is its (potential) positive benefits towards the environment and a sustainable future; products are running cleaner and having less of an environmental impact than ever before. At Abt Electronics we believe the industry should follow the trend of the products and continue to move towards a sustainable future. Our Green Initiatives includes an E85-ready delivery fleet, the elimination of paper catalogs, and even provides bicycles to employees who leave for lunch as an alternative to driving. A proactive program will lead us towards the future but what about all the “dead technologies” of the past and the waste they’ve left behind?
As televisions and monitors improve in performance in size, we are left with the remains of wide-bodied and bulky screens of technology’s past. The main component of these products was CRT, or “cathode ray tube” glass. When this technology was current, old screens were recycled into new ones, and the CRT glass recycling market flourished. Now, in the age of LCD and LED displays, we find ourselves without a responsible solution for the removal of this legacy technology. We ask ourselves, “How do we responsibly and cost-effectively recycle billions of pounds of lead-heavy CRT glass?”
As part of the eCycling Leadership Initiative, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and InnoCentive, sponsored a contest to address the issue. Contestants were challenged to develop compelling economic and environmentally preferable solutions for CRT televisions and monitors and the winners were recently announced.
The Eco-Challenge received 57 solutions and three were chosen as winners. Robert Kirby, a mechanical engineer from New Mexico suggested incorporating the CRT glass into tiles and brick. Another winner, Nulife Glass Processing Ltd., based in Manchester, U.K. proposed a solution already being implemented across the United Kingdom that involves extracting the lead from the glass without hazardous waste or emissions.
The most impressive solution was sent in by Mario Rosato, a Spanish environmental engineer and winner of four previous InnoCentive Challenges. Rosato proposed a closed-loop chemical process that separates the lead, in the form of hydrated PbO, from the glass. The hydrated PbO in then thermally decomposed to yield PbO, a lead commodity of high value in a variety of industries.
Each solution solves the growing problem of useless CRT glass and helps create, and promote a sustainable technological future. For more information on Abt Electronics’ green initiatives click here!