Before the invention of super-thin liquid crystal displays, if you wanted to watch television or look at something on a computer, you needed a cathode ray tube (CRT). Big and bulky, CRTs displayed images by using an electron gun that could shoot beams of light onto a fluorescent screen on the inside of specialized vacuum tubes. For decades, CRTs were ubiquitous. Now, they're obsolete—and 60% of all e-waste is heavy CRTs. More than 860 million pounds of old cathode ray tubes are stockpiled at electronics recyclers.
That got Paul Burns of San Francisco's Fireclay Tile thinking: What if he could take the CRT glass and make a tile out of it? Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, that's just what he did, taking the "Tube" out of CRT and replacing it with "Tile."
To create each of his tiles, Fireclay separates the glass from each monitor or television, then grinds it down into a fine dust of glass particles. Once demagnetized, these particles are then melted down, injected with white pigment, and cast into molds—which are then broken apart into individual tiles in a light gray color that Fireclay calls Phosphor.
Once they are polished, Fireclay's recycled CRT tiles are ready to sell. They come in both glossy and matte finishes, in sizes of two-by-eight-inches, two-by-four inches, or a penny-sized round mosaic. Depending on what size you order, Fireclay's CRT tiles cost anywhere from $30 to $54 per square foot.
Turning the huge Magnavox someone discarded on a street corner into enough tile to attractively panel a modern bathroom? Talk about smart, sustainable design. You can order Fireclay's CRT Tiles for yourself here.