As old-fashioned CRT television become rapidly redundant and are replaced by LCDs and plasma displays a new problem has arisen in terms of what to do with the bulky old sets.

Faced with strict recycling laws in many countries, Panasonic thinks it has come up with a solution by introducing a new system to break down CRTs using a powerful laser beam.

Sliced tellies

The company unveiled the beam this week in Japan, where it has opened a reprocessing plant at the Panasonic Eco Technology Center (PETEC), near Osaka.

It uses the powerful laser to slice the thick front glass from the funnel-shaped cathode ray tube portion attached to it at the back. This is necessary for recycling because of different materials in the two kinds of glass.

Global problem

Previously, Panasonic used a hot wire to slice the screens, but this peaked at just 24 units an hour. The laser triples the number to 72 CRTs in the same period.

While it may not seem like significant progress, the numbers involved lend it some perspective. In PETEC alone, Panasonic expects to have to recycle up to 650,000 CRT TVs in 2011, the year analogue broadcasts stop in Japan.

Scaled up to account for the same process going on globally, it's clear that TV wreckers are going to be having a smashing time over the next few years.

Via PC World