Monday, April 16, 2012

The second life of CRT's monitors...

A monitor is more ripe for mishap at home than it is if it is put to use elsewhere, for example recycled or offered to someone else second hand. A lot of people don't want to recycle their electronic wastes. The stereotype that it is harmful for the planet is well anchored in their minds. This document will describe a possible second life for E-waste.

With help from Good Point Recycling's employees Crystal, John and Zach; I will describe what might become of your old monitor.
Enjoy the post!
Sources of electronic waste
Monitor 1. The family R decides to change its monitor following an irreparable breakdown.
Monitor 2. The family F finds its monitor too small and would like to substitute it with a bigger one.
These two families will carry their old monitors to the closest drop-off facility. When we discard our old cell phone, our electric shaver, our TV... we produce electronic waste, E-waste, or what is called WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).The drop-off facility is left in charge of the disposal of these wastes :
  • Final disposal : at the landfill or incinerator >> wastes are buried or burnt, the added value is low (only energetic) or non existent for some facilities
  • Alternative : Reuse– Repair - Recycle
Let see what will become these two monitors!

Collection of waste
Good Point Recycling (GPR), a company member of WR3A, has a partnership with the drop-off facility where the families left their old monitors. With Crystal, GPR's driver, we go to collect these wastes.
Collection of waste - Crystal

Sorting: reusable VS recyclable
WR3A promotes electronic waste reuse and recycling. GPR applies the Fair Trade Recycling principle to optimize use.
Monitors arrive on pallets or as bulk product in gaylord (large packaging)

Zack and I sort out the monitors in two categories :
  • The reusable - in good condition, repairable, refurbishable - Monitor 2
  • The recyclable - damaged, mocked, cracked, too old, power supply cut - Monitor 1
* Reusable monitors are exported to emerging countries, at approximately $2 per unit. This solution is probably the most respectful of the environment. Monitors are reused, after being repaired or refurbished if necessary.

Left: CRT refurbished Center: CRT tested Right: printed circuit repaired

Monitors in poor condition are not exported and are recycled in the USA. See the following:

* From waste to second material : recycling
With John's help, we recycle around thirty monitors a day.

A. Tools required
WR3A supports hand work. Robin Ingenthron, the WR3A's president, shows that it gets a better recovery rate than most industrial processes.
Tools required

B. Disassembly process
We start with 31 CRT monitors. These old monitors are heavy, approximately 35 pounds each, or together approximately 1 000 pounds.
Disassembling a monitor is not difficult, the main difficulty in finding the hidden screws.
The monitor is totally dismantled step by step
Step by step, I will explain you how to dismantle a CRT's monitor:* Unscrew (2 screws)
* Hit the corners of the monitor with a hammer
* Remove the plastic envelope* Unscrew (5 screws)* Remove the big metallic part* Pull the CRT neck board* Cut some wires* Unscrew (2 screws)* Cut some wires* Remove the cathode ray gun and the yoke by turning them * Unscrew (2 screws)* Remove the black and rectangular wire* Remove the CRT
* Drill the CRT on the power supply, so the air can penetrate it which avoids implosion risk (safety operation)
* Remove the metallic pieces
* Hit the printed circuit with a hammer, so that it is easier and quicker to remove the printed circuit

All these big parts (scraps) are separated, as we can see on the following picture. Step by step, the monitor has been dismantled. Each family component has been weighted (see table 1).

Main parts of a monitor

C. The materials of the monitor
Table 1. Data for the monitor in pictures (above).
Global data regarding the dismantling of the 31 monitors :

Table 2. Global data (more accurate)
If we compare the data of one monitor (table 1) and the global data (table 2), they are relatively similar. The CRT is the heaviest component. As we can see on one of the following pictures, plastic is very cumbersome, for this reason it will be compressed.

Scraps : CRTs on the left, magnetizable metals on the lower middle, etc.

Value of the component (scrap)
Components are separated as much as possible to add value when we sell them. For instance, seen on a previous picture, there are two types of wires, one of them is richer in copper so the added value is more important than the other type of wires. Aluminum and other metals are separated for the same reason.

WR3A has a very interesting approach to electronic waste, thinks about and treats all wastes/components, even when if it is not profitable such as the CRT. Indeed, this kind of waste has a negative value as we can see in table 3.

Table 3.

Key figures
* How many screws need to be removed to dismantle a monitor?
For one monitor, I unscrew 17 screws.
For another, 18... Indeed, some screws do not need to be removed.

* What percentage of waste is recycled at GPR vs. reused and repaired?
Good Point Recycling collected approximately 4 million lbs. of E-waste in 2010. 70% is recycled in the USA and 30% is exported to partners (Senegal, Indonesia, Ghana, Mexico, etc.) for reuse.

* Time required to dismantle a monitor? In 6 hours, John and I dismantled 31 monitors.

6h / 31 * 2 workers = approximately 24 min per monitor. It depends on the efficiency of the worker, for instance, I was much slower than John!

A monitor can have a second life after it has been discarded. It can be put to use: reuse, refurbish, recycle...
Discovering how a CRT monitor is dismantled is interesting and enriching, I found it difficult to dismantle the first monitor, but little by little I got used to it. Monitor after monitor, I saw the difference between an Apple and a Dell, learned how to recognize the different components, the difficulties, which screws needed to be removed or not... It is an interesting manual job. I am not a gifted person for ''DIY'', but with some practice, I did it!

1 comment:

  1. Nice article, but i have a couple of thoughts concerning the Disassembly process:
    - the 'electric screw driver' is not electric but pneumatic.
    - not a word about "caution, high voltage"?
    - "dril the crt on the power supply..." why? That won't implode. Under no circumstances. If anything, it's the crt itself hat goes boom...