Copper in CRTs: Don’t Just Cut Their Cables Off!

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If you want more information on the CRT, check out HOW TO SCRAP CRTs. I explain how I can make over $20 per hour just pulling these things apart, and where to get the most recycling scrap copper.




CRTs, or cathode ray tubes, are commonly used in TV or Computer Monitors. TVs and computer monitors are so heavy because of the thick leaded glass of the “tube” part of a CRT. All CRTs are made of leaded glass and (none the less) often thrown in the garbage. One way people make money from these material rich products is to rip them apart to harvest their insides. The glass tube is not going to get touched by any scrap yard, but if you cut out the wires, the copper windings, and the degaussing coils, you will make a decent amount of money for not very much work. Surprisingly enough, it just takes a few screws, some side cutters, and about 5 minutes to get yourself a big chunk of copper…. 


CRT color enhanced Copper in CRTs: Dont Just Cut Their Cables Off!
Above: An artist depicts a CRT.
Below: A computer monitor has been stripped
of its plastic shell and backing.  
 Copper in CRTs: Dont Just Cut Their Cables Off!
In the artists interpretation at the above-top, you can see the CRT has copper windings at arrows 3 and 4. The degaussing coil, a thick copper cable that is used to “neutralize” outside magnetic fields, is also a necessary component of every CRT. In the above photo, the degaussing coil is the thick black cable wrapped around the monitor, closest to that metal band at the top. On most CRTs its a decent amount of copper you will definitely take out. 

For many of you, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard about taking copper out of monitors (Well that’s because it’s a good idea). What many of you don’t know is that the plastic shell on the outside of the monitors is also recyclable. It sells for 10 cents a pound at a plastics recycling company near me. (They do, however, want to have at least a hundred pounds per transaction.) So if you already take these things apart and are looking for another way to make even more income, go ahead and start stacking the shells and the bases like I have. It doesn’t take that long for it to add up!


Also I have this video showing a German company that specializes in CRT recycling:

The Government of Australia has a nice web page on e-scrap that break a computer monitor and all other types of electronics into further detail.



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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

hobo finds November 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

They now recycle this type of plastic by me in the household blue bin recycling program

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Anonymous November 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

What is the name of the place buying the plastic. Would love to sale it.

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The Irrationalist November 18, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Well just like finding a scrap yard, to find someplace that recycles plastics near you, just search in google maps!

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Anonymous November 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I heard that there is a nasty capacitor in there that holds quite the charge. Any advice on how to discharge it?

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The Irrationalist November 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I don't really need to worry about it be cause my CRTs are at least a month old. You are right, however, that they could hold a charge. To discharge it, you need to pry the suction-cup-like wire coming out of the glass with a screw driver, and then touch it to a ground. Hope that helps. Again, I never do this, but i probably should. I do work with rubber handled tools however. Good luck scrapping!

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John February 15, 2014 at 11:20 am

Sticking finger under rubber works to

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S Mayeaux March 8, 2011 at 5:14 am

Short that capacitor out with an insulated screwdriver. If you don't then you will quickly find out why that transformer with the big red cable is called a "Fly-back Transformer"

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Anonymous April 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

ive heard of people saying don't take this part, youll get hurt if you don't know what im doing- is the fly back and the leaded glass really the only 2 things to worry about or no.

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Anonymous April 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I've been reading your scrapblog and decided to try it out on a large TV up the street. I got all my tools and went to check it out someone had removed all the copper and boards from it and put the cover back on with one screw. Thanks for the advice on discharging the capacitor. I also wear eye protection and gloves when scrapping.

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AdamS May 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

After scrapping a TV or monitor, how do you get rid of the leaded glass and other stuff you can't throw away?

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Sean R. December 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I have been doing this for a short time. But, I am still having problems getting rid of the leaded glass. Do you have any suggestions? Is there anyplace that will pay for the leaded glass?

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 15, 2011 at 5:41 am

It depends on how much you want to get rid of, and if you will be paying shipping, etc. The more you have, the less it will cost to recycle. Ideally, you would mechanically separating the different grades of leaded glass by %Pb, and then sell accordingly.

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Mitch McGee February 1, 2012 at 4:55 am

I am going to buy a few tons of e-scrap mostly monitors and printers they asked me to write a letter telling them how much I would pay for the e-scrap and a letter stating that I would recycle everything, my concern is that I will not be able to recycle the glass or the plastic. I live near Albuquerque, NM was wondering if you could point me in the right direction and also if it is even feasible to buy the e-scrap and make a profit.

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j. r. lamberty February 2, 2012 at 1:52 am

I will suggest to anyone who digs scrap out of a tv or any other crt to at least respect the safety of others by placing the cover back on the unit or if you are allowed to toss the remains in trash container! Consider the possibility of another person accidentally falling onto the crt that has the tube broken off and how serious someone could be cut! Remember the lead and mercury content in the glass and it is toxic! Many times I have observed broken crts left in a dangerous position! Somebody COULD get killed, ie, bleed to death, or experience some non fatal victimization including total disability, etc! Respect for others is extremely first priority no matter how much money one makes at this trade! My apartment complex has barred outsiders from “scrapping” on the property! All offenders are subject to arrest by the police for trespassing and in January 2012 three persons were indeed arrested and went to jail, plus their vehicles were impounded! Be careful out there and above all, RESPECT!

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Chuck Elledge July 27, 2012 at 8:49 am

jr lamberty – That seems pretty drastic to me jr – what kind of neighborhood you living in that you see “many times” crts left broken in a position to hurt someone? If your cmplex has a problem with trash scroungers I’d say license 1 professional salvager to act as a pickup person for tenants who want to dispose of monitors, old TVs and appliances etc rather than putting them in apartment dumpsters where they’ll poison the landfills. Nothing then ends up in the dumpsters to attract scavengers and the tenants get a free or almost free service depending on what they’re disposing of. A pro keeps it clean and you know who to contact if there’s a problem. Everyone who scraps for a living should respect property and be as clean and environmentally sensitive as possible. Doing otherwise could shut down our way of earning money and cause regulations and laws to be put in place making it really difficult to do business. It is already hard to search dumpsters and curbsides without harassment in many places because of a few idiots. And salvagers who open A/C units without proper licensing (which is easy to get) and leave leaded glass and such on the ground or in regular trash – well when they get aught it raises an outcry that eventually will get us all banned. I find it’s not hard to do it right. Usually end up with better prices and more respect, too.

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Bill March 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Most newer crt monitors have a bleeder circuit for the high voltage discharge. After the monitor is unplugged the high voltage is drained. For SAFETY I have been grounding them out anyways but never got any type discharge. Don’t forget to pull the small transformers. The plastic black squares on the main board have some copper in them. Break the plastic cases off. Does anyone scrap the video cord. Is this copper?

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Mealane8 November 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Bill, yes, this should indeed be copper as well. Probably not worth much however. I have from time to time stripped even the smallest computer cables, but the path to getting any money for them in any fashion is probably practically inexistent. Thought, I still thank God regularly for the amount of extra income I have made from this so far this year, I wouldn’t expect this to be one of the ways to do so.

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glen January 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

IN SCRAPPING TVS I FIND DIFFERENT COLORED WIRES, RED OR GREEN ARE THESE WIRES COPPER OR ALUMINUM? THE COLORING IS SOME TYPE OF COATING OVER THE WIRES. I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT A PLASTIC COVERED WIRE, THE WIRES ARE A BUNCH OF WIRES THAT MAKE UP THE DEGAUSSING WIRES AND SOMETIMES EVEN THE WINDINGS ARE COLORED.

THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR ANY INFO

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm

The wire used in CRTs is almost exclusively copper wire, and very rarely will be aluminum wire. The colored coating on the outside of the wire has nothing to do with what type of material the wire is made from.

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Rob February 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Anyone interested in about 500 CRT monitors for 25 cents each ??? Yes I said 25 cents each – not dollars – cents. Just come and get them – I’m located in CT and they are available for pickup for all of you looking to salvage copper and make $$ off of them. Let me know. two zero three, nine seven nine, six nine zero seven – my email address is not legit but my phone number is. Call me if you want the equipment. If I dont answer please leave a voicemail and I will return your call promptly.

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angelo May 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Hello,
When Iwas scrappping many crt’s, i noticed that there is red copper and bright copper wire( Especially from the insulated copper wire wrapped around the CRT). Are these the same grade? should i seperate them by color? And finally, Do they sell at the same price?Thank you

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wolf December 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Hello Scrap Metal Junkie, your site has been most helpful, I’ve recently taken up scrapping and in the last few months I’ve already made about 150$ without going through large efforts with this site as my main source of info. Thanks a lot man.
I’ve recently picked up a monitor and this is the first time I’ll be scrapping one, so I’m a bit skiddish ;-)

I’ll wait about a week until I touch it and then I will discharge it using a scewdriver, but I would like to add another safety measure and I’m not sure if it’s alright to do, I’m planning on using rubber gloves and standing on a rubber mat while discharging (and scrapping)

I’ve had one too many jolts in my childhood and it has left me terrified of electric current unfortunately

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Norm April 16, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I’m fairly new to scrapping. My cousin and I have done somewhat well so far. I was wondering if you have a general way or system of telling basically what each apianxe is worth in scrap. Simply as far as non-ferrous and ferrous metals are concerned at most scrap yards. We have learned a wealth if knowledge from reading in your site last night we appreciate that. Also if you could what are the most lucrative parts if cars to scrap besides cat converters. Thank you!

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Norm April 16, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I’m fairly new to scrapping. My cousin and I have done somewhat well so far. I was wondering if you have a general way or system of telling basically what each apianxe is worth in scrap. Simply as far as non-ferrous and ferrous metals are concerned at most scrap yards. We have learned a wealth if knowledge from reading in your site last night we appreciate that. Also if you could what are the most lucrative parts if cars to scrap besides cat converters. Thanks

Reply

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