Posted on May 11, 2017
by Bobby Elliott
Markets and regulations are forcing companies active in the nations largest state electronics recycling program to landfill CRT glass. The move is legal, but its raising difficult questions for the many processors that have publicly vowed to avoid disposal.
For instance, visitors to the website of processor e-Recycling of California are told that leaded glass is refined to make new CRTs or is used as feedstock for closed loop recycling.
But data from the state of California shows the company sent approximately 25 million pounds of CRT glass to landfill in 2016.
In an interview with E-Scrap News, Russ Caswell, general manager of e-Recycling of California, acknowledged the company is in a bind when it comes to communicating how its handling CRTs.
Its all being handled per state and federal rules, but if some portion of it is going to landfill, maybe we shouldnt say recycling, Caswell said. We would absolutely prefer to be recycling it. I can tell you right now, if someone came up with a recycling option and the state approved it, wed be all over it.
Landfilling becomes the go-to option
Caswells company is far from the only processor in the state struggling to fulfill recycling promises due to CRT market realities.
Disposal of CRT glass has been allowed under the California program since 2015. Citing the lack of consistent and available downstream recycling outlets, regulators authorized the disposal of leaded glass in hazardous waste landfills and the disposal of panel glass in municipal solid waste landfills. The authorization was re-adopted last year and will run until September 2018.
Initial data from the state suggested about half of the 77 million pounds of CRT glass handled by state program companies in 2016 went to landfill. More detailed data obtained by E-Scrap News, however, shows at least 60 million pounds of the material more than three-quarters of the total headed directly to landfill.
For instance, ERI, one of the nations largest e-scrap firms, landfilled all of the nearly 8 million pounds of CRT glass it handled within the program in 2016.
In addition to ERI and e-Recycling of California, the following other e-scrap firms participating in the state program also landfilled at least half a million pounds of CRT glass last year, according to state data: ECS (18.8 million pounds), CEAR (2.7 million pounds), IMS (2.5 million pounds), PC Recycle (1.8 million pounds) and Onsite Electronics (just over 619,000 pounds).
However, all the companies listed above have included language in online marketing materials that strongly suggests disposal is either banned or avoided, according to an E-Scrap News analysis.
ERIs website notes, ERI is committed to ensuring no part of your device ends up in a landfill or is exported abroad, and holds it partners to the same standards. And the ECS website states the company offers the most sophisticated, full-circle recycling process in the world to handle CRTs.
Before being contacted by E-Scrap News for this story, the sites for both ERI and ECS used more direct language, with ERI noting a strict zero-landfill, zero-export policy and ECS stating that electronics are recycled instead of being dumped in a landfill or shipped overseas. But that verbiage has since been removed.
Meanwhile, California Electronic Asset Recovery (CEAR) states it is fully pledged to a zero landfill policy.
IMS warns of the astronomical and lethal ramifications of landfilling. PC Recycle states that the companys first priority is keeping electronics out of landfills. And Onsite Electronics states, We properly dismantle and recycle all materials.
Companies say their hands are tied
Executives from those companies that could be reached for comment echoed the sentiments of Caswell, noting that the landfill is their only viable option right now.
In a statement, ERI co-founder Aaron Blum said, Our ability to divert material away from a landfill is not always a decision we get to make. Blum, who is also the companys chief compliance officer, added the company has a zero landfill mission and noted 95 percent of the material ERI receives nationwide gets recycled. The company also noted all of its landfilled material goes to hazardous waste sites.
While ECS managed to find a smelter in South Korea called Korea Zinc for its leaded glass late last year, the company continues to landfill panel glass in California, according to state figures. Ken Taggart, executive vice president at ECS, said in a statement that regulatory restrictions are to blame.
ECS maximizes recycling and maintains a landfill-avoidance policy for all residuals that can be legally recycled, and for which there is the technology, demand and capacity, Taggart stated.
Paul Gao, CEARs owner, meanwhile, said zero landfill is an aspirational goal for his company. Our policy or our goal is toward 100 percent recycling and right now we explain to customers were achieving 95 percent, Gao said. Thats all we can do right now.
IMS, PC Recycle and Onsite did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.
Slim spectrum of choices
The squeeze on processors is being driven by the fact that the only avenues for actually recycling California glass have dried up.
Under California law, leaded CRT glass can only be recycled in one of two ways: as part of a glass-to-glass manufacturing process or at a lead smelter. This eliminates using leaded CRT glass in other products, such as tiles. Non-leaded glass, meanwhile, is allowed to be recycled into a variety of applications, such as tiles, fiberglass, bricks and radiation shielding glass, but doing so is not easy under current state regulations.
Leaders at companies handling glass in California say that this spectrum of choices allowed by the state is extraordinarily slim. Access to glass-to-glass manufacturing dried up entirely last year, which has affected the entire glass recycling industry in the U.S. California is also at a geographic disadvantage when it comes to utilizing the two most popular North American lead smelters of CRT glass, Doe Run in Missouri and Glencore in New Brunswick. Whats more, companies said demand from smelters has fallen off in recent years.
In our minds, theres really no option other than going to landfill, said Caswell of e-Recycling of California. We dont write the regulations; we just follow them.
Glass-to-glass and smelting outlets in 2016 received roughly 9.5 million pounds of CRT glass from California, according to state records. Thats about 12 percent of the 77 million pounds of CRT glass managed during the year.
India-based CRT manufacturer Videocon received about 6.5 million pounds of glass before its closure. Smelters Doe Run, Glencore and Korea Zinc received the rest of the material.
Continuing to look for possibilities
Jeff Hunts, who manages the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recoverys (CalRecycle) e-scrap program, said the vast majority of CRT glass continues to head to landfill in the state.
He also acknowledged that recycling solutions are hard to find.
California regulations severely limit market options for CRT glass, Hunts said. We should continue to look for recycling possibilities that are protective of the public and the environment as long as this waste stream lasts.
ERIs Blum said stakeholders are trying to solve the issue.
We are working closely with the state of California to expand the available downstream recycling options for CRT glass, Blum stated. ECSs Taggart said his firm was also actively working with stakeholders and hoped regulations would become more pro-recycling in the future to open up more downstream outlets for the material.
How should companies publicly talk about their actions until such options appear? While acknowledging the lack of options for California firms, one trade association representative suggests just being open and honest.
If I were a recycler and I was disposing of the material in a landfill I would just come clean, said Billy Johnson, chief lobbyist for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). [Otherwise], its a recipe for disaster.
District Attorney Dan Dow announced that San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Barry T. LaBarbera has ordered McNamara Realty to pay $30,000 for penalties and costs, as a result of a settlement of a civil environmental protection action filed by the District Attorneys Office alleging the company mishandled asbestos, a hazardous waste.
The stipulated judgment between McNamara Realty and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorneys Office, resolves claims made in a civil enforcement lawsuit filed May 23, 2017. The lawsuit centered on McNamara Realtys removal of approximately 1100 square feet of asbestos-containing acoustic ceiling material from several residential rental units under its management. The ceiling material was determined to be hazardous waste under state law. The suit also alleged that McNamara Realty failed to notify the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District prior to the removal of the ceiling material, failed to have staff trained in asbestos abatement on-site during the removal, failed to track the material as required by law, and caused the material to be disposed of at a facility that was not permitted to receive hazardous waste.
California law describes the proper methods for the removal, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste, such as asbestos. When a business cuts corners in violation of the law it places competing companies at a financial disadvantage and places the health of the public at risk, said District Attorney Dan Dow.
Under the settlement, McNamara Realty must pay $15,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. The property management company will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law. McNamara Realty was cooperative in the investigation and has implemented procedures designed to eliminate the improper removal and disposal of asbestos containing material.
This case was investigated by the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District in conjunction with the District Attorneys Consumer and Environmental Protection Division and was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth.
Thirty-four California District Attorneys Offices along with two California City Attorneys Offices announced on April 27th a settlement with Big Lots Stores, Inc. (Big Lots) addressing alleged environmental violations.
An April 17th news released by the Riverside County, California District Attorneys Office states that a judge ordered Big Lots and its subsidiary corporations to pay $3.5 million in civil penalties and costs.
The news release also noted:
A judgment in a civil lawsuit filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court is the result of an investigation into the unlawful disposal of hazardous waste by Big Lots Stores at its distribution center and its 206 California stores over several years.
The lawsuit had alleged:
. . . instead of transporting hazardous waste to authorized hazardous waste facilities, Big Lots illegally disposed of the waste in the trash and illegally transported it to local landfills not permitted to receive such waste. The hazardous waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, and waste from electronic devices. Some of the waste was the result of spills, damaged containers, or customer returns.
Big Lots is stated to have:
Adopted and implemented new policies and procedures
Adopted and implemented new training programs to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste
Arranged for the collection of hazardous waste by state-registered haulers to transport it to authorized disposal facilities
Arranged for proper documentation
Cooperated during the investigation
Big Lots is required to pay $2,017,500 in civil penalties. $336,250 will be utilized to reimburse the costs of the investigation. $350,000 will go to funding environmental projects that further environmental enforcement and consumer protection in California. The company will also fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $803,750
The legislation summary for 2017 has been posted in the Legislation section.Posted: 2017-05-19 14:59:07
The CUPA Forum Board is currently accepting applications to develop a list of qualified trainers for the Rural County Training Assistance Grant. The CUPA Forum anticipates to begin accepting and reviewing agency applications starting May 15, 2017, with implementation commencing June 5, 2017 for approved applications.Posted: 2017-05-01 13:50:41
The inspection checklists for APSA, HMBP, HWG, HHW, RCRA, Tiered, and UST posted in the Inspection/Enforcement section.Posted: 2017-05-01 13:37:23
We've redesigned the California CUPA Forum website and consolidated calcupa.com, calcupa.net, and calcupa.org into one site. The official URL for the California CUPA Forum site is https://calcupa.org.
Most member data is currently "view only". We will restore access to all data over the course of the next few months.
To login, use your old account email address as the username and your old password.
We hope you enjoy the new website, and if you need to contact us please use the "Leave A Message" form.
Short recap of the California CUPA Forum Training Conference for 2017.Posted: 2017-03-11 12:27:56
Quick overview of the CUPA 2016 Training Conference.Posted: 2017-03-09 15:00:54
The 19th Annual California Unified Program Training Conference was held February 6-9, 2017 at the Sheraton Resort and Marina in San Diego and was our highest attended conference, 1933 attendees.
Our Training Conference provides professional training in subjects related to enhancing Unified Program implementation and to improve consistency and coordination between the 82 CUPAs and 32 participating agencies (PAs) throughout California. This Conference isn't possible without the support and participation of our State Agency Partners, Cal-EPA, Cal-OES, State Fire Marshall, DTSC and the SWRCB.
In addition, thanks to all of the sponsors and vendors who helped make this the most successful Conference to date.
This award program is intended to highlight exceptional achievement by Unified Program Agencies, Participating Agencies and individuals.
Outstanding Certified Unified Program Agency-
Sacramento Environmental Management Department
Outstanding Innovation or Related Unified Program Project-
San Luis Obispo County/Aaron LaBarre for TCE Water well Investigation & Well Owners Guidance
Outstanding CUPA Individual-
Terry Carrier, Orange County Environmental Health
John Misleh, San Diego CUPA
Outstanding Federal/State Unified Program Agency-
Cory Hootman, California State Water Resources Control Board
Outstanding Industry / Trade Association-
UC Risk and Safety Solutions for eWaste and Chemical Inventory tools on University of California campuses