Waltham, Mass., February 28, 2012 – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and InnoCentive today announced the winners of an Eco-Challenge to develop compelling economic and environmentally preferable solutions for recycling old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors.
The award-winning ideas are the first step in determining how to responsibly and cost-effectively recycle billions of pounds of lead-heavy CRT glass as consumers switch from CRT electronics to liquid crystal, light emitting diode (LED) and plasma displays.
The Challenge is part of EDF and InnoCentives Eco-Challenge Series, which works with leading companies to tap the power of open innovation to address real-world environmental issues faster and more efficiently, while generating business value.
"The glass in tens of millions of old TVs and monitors now being replaced by flat-screens is filled with lead, which is a major concern for public health and our planet," said Beth Trask, who leads the Eco-Challenge Series for EDF. "Crowdsourcing is an exciting new way to uncover fresh ideas for solving pressing environmental problems in the electronics and e-waste industries."
More than 350 "Solvers" participated in the Eco-Challenge, which offered prizes from $1,000 to $5,000. Ultimately, three were named winners:
Mario Rosato, an environmental engineer from Spain who has won four previous InnoCentive Challenges, all related to environmental issues. Rosato proposed a closed-loop process for separating the lead from the glass in a form with high market value for a variety of industries;
Nulife Glass Processing Ltd., based in Manchester, U.K., proposed a solution that utilizes an extremely energy efficient electrically heated furnace, uniquely designed to produce minimal emissions; and
Robert Kirby, a mechanical engineer from New Mexico, submitted an idea for combining CRT glass with cement to create tile and bricks that are tested, labeled and sold specifically for applications where lead shielding is required, such as X-ray and fluoroscopy rooms.
"These winning solutions are a vital new step to finding safe, responsible and cost-effective ways to handle old CRTs in the coming years," said Walter Alcorn, CEA vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability. "CEA will continue to work with manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to explore these and other emerging solutions within the industry."
CEA plans to make these solutions available to the public at CE.org/green with the dual goals of raising awareness and helping to create market demand for used CRT glass. CEA holds no rights to the winning solutions and encourages recyclers to adopt these practices.
"Finding good uses for CRT glass is a challenge we face every day," said Craig Lorch, co-owner of Seattle-based electronics recycler, Total Reclaim. "We are excited to see innovative approaches identified to recover usable resources contained in these legacy electronics," he added.
CEA embarked on this challenge to help find an economically feasible and eco-friendly solution to this important recycling issue. In other areas, the prize approach to solving environmental problems has been gaining popularity among corporations faced with increased environmental regulations and societal pressures, as well as non-profit organizations with limited budgets.
"Working with CEA and EDF to identify a critical need in protecting our environment speaks directly to the mission of the Eco-Challenge series," said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. "The response from our Solvers and the engagement of the recycling community is evidence that the partnership is having a meaningful impact. We are excited about the potential presented by these solutions."