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PR NEW REINVENTION INITIATIVE WILL EXPAND RECYCLING OF TV SCREENS, REDUCE LEAD RELEASES
Release Date: 06/26/98
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 1998
NEW REINVENTION INITIATIVE WILL EXPAND RECYCLING OF TV SCREENS, REDUCE LEAD RELEASES
As part of the Clinton Administration’s efforts to reinvent environmental regulations, EPA today announced an initiative to reduce regulatory barriers that could lead to the recycling of tens of millions of television screens and computer monitors while reducing releases of lead to the environment. This improvement is part of the Administration’s broad-based, overall effort to make government work better and more cost-effectively for all citizens, communities and businesses.
“This reinvention effort will encourage more recycling, cut costs and reduce paperwork. At the same time it will protect public health and the environment by providing better methods of disposal for lead-containing glass from TV and computer monitor screens,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner.
Today’s initiative is a recommendation from EPA’s Common Sense Initiative Council, which explores the possibility of enhanced environmental protection through cooperative agreements with entire industry sectors. One of the main issues the Computers and Electronics Sector focused on was improved management of cathode ray tubes (CRTs) in televisions and computer display monitors because of the difficulty of recycling these items under current regulations.
CRTs are composed largely of specialized glass, some of which contains lead to protect users from x-rays generated while the tube is in operation. A typical monitor or television may contain 15-90 pounds of glass with a lead content as high as 25 percent. In 1996 about 42 million color televisions and computer monitors were sold in the United States. The CSI Council recommended that EPA revise its hazardous waste management regulations to make it easier to recycle CRTs. This glass-to-glass recycling involves collecting televisions and computer monitors, separating the glass and other components, removing coatings from the glass, sorting the glass and returning the glass to CRT glass manufacturers, who could use up to 300,000 tons of recycled CRT glass annually. This could translate to recycling capacity for tens of millions of TV and computer monitors.
Current regulations often require all hazardous waste to meet the same management standards and do not tailor standards to the nature or degree of risk posed by particular wastes. EPA expects to propose a rule under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in early 1999 that will greatly streamline the requirements for managing CRTs while retaining appropriate controls to protect human health and the environment. The rule will also clarify that once the CRT glass is processed such that it is usable as a raw material in CRT glass manufacturing, it is not subject to hazardous waste regulations. This new streamlined approach will: prevent releases of lead into the environment through general performance standards and specific controls; require responses to any releases to the environment; prevent mixing lead glass with glass used in other applications; require appropriate management of hazardous residues generated in CRT reprocessing; provide safeguards for materials transportation; and ensure that communities are given the opportunity to become familiar with and comment on the activities of recycling operations.
Through this effort EPA will provide regulatory relief to this industry and increase environmental protection. The CSI recommendation is the result of over two years of work by the Computer and Electronics Sector Subcommittee that consists of representatives of environmental groups, labor groups, environmental justice groups, industry trade associations, CRT glass manufacturers, CRT glass recyclers, electronics and academic experts, states and EPA.
Under the Administration’s regulatory reinvention effort, over 1,300 pages of obsolete or duplicative environmental regulations have been taken off the books, reducing the regulatory burden by 20 million hours, a savings of $600 million. Another reinvention project accomplished through the CSI metal finishing sector has adopted a set of unprecedented performance goals that could affect as many as 11,000 firms nationwide and could cut toxic emissions from the industry by up to 75 percent compared to 1992 levels.
For more information regarding the Common Sense Initiative and other reinvention activities, visit EPA’s web page at: www.epa.gov/reinvent.
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