Crowd-sourcing stirs up fresh ideas for recycling TVs and monitors

Can our old TVs and computer monitors, which are filled with toxic substances, be safely and profitably recycled into new products?  We don’t know, but with tens of millions units expected to hit the waste stream over the next few years as households upgrade to newer flat panel models, we need to find out. And fast.

Solving tough problems requires leadership and innovation.  In this case, I’m happy to report that we have both. The leadership is coming from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), and its eCycling Leadership Initiative.

The innovation is coming from literally around the world. In December, CEA posted this problem as an “Eco-Challenge,” a crowd-sourcing competition Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) developed with InnoCentive.

InnoCentive’s global community of more than 250,000 “Solvers” — scientists, inventors and other creative problem-solvers from over 200  countries — had approximately one month to propose ideas for solutions.

More than 350 Solvers participated in the Eco-Challenge, which received over 50 proposals.  CEA awarded the three most intriguing ideas prize money totaling $11,000.

But the challenge doesn’t end there.  In addition to working with the award-winning Solvers to further explore their ideas, 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.

We don’t yet have a solution to the TV/monitor recycling problem, but we have taken a big step forward with these three award-winning ideas. Stay tuned, or better yet, get involved.