With everyone who can afford to turning to flat screen technology to replace their old TVs and monitors, there's an abundance of old cathode ray tube (CRT) glass hitting the e-waste stream, and a dearth of ways to put it back into service. But an innovative ceramic tile company that focuses on the use of recycled materials in their products has a great idea for recycled CRT glass, giving it a second life as a sustainable interior design element.
Before the advent of flat screen TVs and computer monitors, the electronics industry used CRT technology to display and project images, which required glass that was very thick and shatter-resistant. And with so many households replacing these old CRT units with sleek and efficient flat screens, hundreds of millions of pounds of unwanted CRT glass end up at landfills, because other than being recycled into more CRT glass (which isn't in high demand anymore), this potential resource is just a waste item.
Paul Burns, founder and Chief Ceramicist at Fireclay Tile, found himself wondering what became of these obsolete monitors and TVs, which eventually led him on a three year journey to find a viable use for CRT glass.
"About two or three years ago my business partner replaced all our old computers, and I started to wonder, what happens to all those old monitors. Well, I found out they’re piled up all over the place. I decided, why don’t I try to make tile out of this old computer screen." – Burns
Fireclay Tile already produced decorative and architectural tiles from recycled materials and unprocessed stoneware clays, so turning to CRT glass as a potential material wasn't so much of a stretch, at least conceptually. However, developing a process to get the glass from monitor to finished tile wasn't without challenges, including the need to enlist an electronics recycler to remove the glass panels from their housing in order to start the process of crushing and sorting the material.
And now the journey is almost complete, as Fireclay is looking to crowdfund their newest product through a Kickstarter campaign intended to fund the purchase of the molds necessary to bring these recycled CRT glass tiles to market.
The finished tiles aren't colored, but rather their natural gray tone, which Fireclay has dubbed Phosphor, and the new tiles will be available in 2x8, 2x4, and penny-round mosaic sizes. According to Fireclay, these recycled tiles can be used for both indoor and outdoor installations, including commercial jobs, and could be the perfect accent in an eco home remodel.
If you'd like to see this innovative project succeed, consider backing it on Kickstarter. Backers at the $25 and up levels will get a set of recycled CRT glass tile coasters, and larger pledges will net backers a complete backsplash for their next home improvement project.