How Environmentalists Killed CRT Glass Markets with Friendly fire.
The Rhyme of the Recent E-Waste Recycler is more about the demand for leaded cullet. Recyclers are awash in the stuff, and the price at destinations (like Dlubak Glass in Ohio or TDM in Mexicali) is rising. People are petitioning California to let the CRT glass be disposed of in a hazardous waste landfill.
At the same time, the lead and silica are in high demand. CRT furnaces are still running, still using virgin leaded silica. Closer to home, both lead refiners and copper smelters are using lead and silica ever day to run their furnaces. Copper smelting demands leaded cullet, the molten silica acts as a river to carry the copper, gold, silver and zinc down the process line. At our local copper smelter in Mexico, the engineers throw bars of lead into the silicate as part of the delicate chemistry of making hard rock mining.
In principle, there is more than enough demand, today, to consume all of the leaded glass in all of the warehouse, basements, concrete pads, and trailers in the USA. Why can't anyone move it.
Blame friendly fire.
I have always, consistently written about the need to measure mining harm before regulating recycled metals. American enforcement agency shut down 7 secondary copper smelters in the USA for polluting - that's ALL SEVEN. Despite producing more pollution, ton per ton, the primary smelters which make ingots from virgin ore steam on and on.
The Superfund was bankrupted by hard rock mining, virgin metal mining. The cyanide used to leache copper from ore, the process to make blister copper, the mining for lead and silica to run the smelter flux, all of this leaves a heavy mark on the environment.
But unlike an environmentalist, mountains don't feel guilty. Mountains and mines don't stop supplying, don't demand downstream diligence, don't require a hazmat transport permit. Mountains require more energy to move, but they never complain, and haven't "changed the rules" since the General Mining Act of 1872.
Therefore, if you run smelter - like our friends in Mexico - which uses 220 tons per day of leaded silicate, you want to stay out of the spotlight. If you are running a CRT furnace in China, Malaysia, or India, you don't want to be "a crane among the chickens".
I have a renewable PO to consume 1,000 tons of CRT cullet every 3 months. It would displace mining, would reduce carbon, and provide a cheap outlet for e-waste recyclers.
Unfortunately, well meaning environmentalists have made the subject of "secondary material" radio-active at the legal department of the smelter. The lawyers fight multi-million dollar settlements and lawsuits, and manage risk and insurance (2000 tons per day of sulferic acid, accumulated in train cars, is a typical day of "byproduct" to manage).
The smelters are meeting the world's demand for copper as they always have. They dig up silica and dig up lead from the mountains. They make $16M per day in gold, copper, etc.
Why risk all of this by dealing with "do-gooders" who have a history of increasing the regulations, transaction costs, diligence, tours, snooping, etc.?
Outcome: The smelters will not return your phone call. Don't bother. Recyclers are persona non grata at the virgin smelting office.
The perfect, you know, is the enemy of the good. Putting used CRT cullet to GOOD use is picking a fight with the Ayatollahs of E-Waste, who sent the following letter to Malaysia EPA when the CRT recycling furnace there was buying CRT cullet from American E-Waste companies.
Arrogance is as stupid does. This letter not only ruined the market for Malaysia, but most other lead silicate users took the hint. Embrace recycling at your own risk. No good deed goes unpunished.
So should California allow CRT glass to be landfilled? After refusing the monitors to be reused under the cancellation clause (paying recyclers to break working monitors with taxpayer money), California depended on Malaysia for cullet buying. Then the BAN letter effectively killed that market. Then the Mexico EPA put "hazardous waste" cargo onto recycled lead silicate, labels that do not apply to virgin mined leaded silicate (a commodity). 220 tons per day is mined, releasing more lead, toxics, and carbon. 220 tons will be landfilled in recycled glass. Who is to blame? Environmental law.
The material carries the label "waste" not because of what it is, but simply because it's recycled content.
B r a v o T e a m . Own goal.