STOCKTON (CBS 5) — For years, California consumers have to pay an extra fee when they buy a new TV or computer to recycle old electronics that can’t be thrown in the garbage. But that may change.

The state may soon allow old television sets to go into a landfill, while still making consumers pay the extra recycling fee.

A new recycling plant in Stockton is where old TV’s come to die. The plant takes in 16 million pounds of them every month and breaks them down into commodities: precious metals, aluminum, and plastic.

What’s unique at the plant is that even the glass filled with toxic lead can get recycled.

The plant’s vice president of operations Bill McGeever said that, “we separate the material into 3 types of glass.”

He said the new technology can take the lead out, allowing the glass to be reused.

“We are developing markets to get some of that glass going into other industries,” said McGeever.

That’s a breakthrough, because until now, under California’s strict recycling rules, old TV glass could only be reused to make more old-style tube TVs, which people are no longer buying.

With 8,000 – 10,000 of the clunky old sets getting discarded every day in California; it has created a major glut in the recycling world.

That’s why state regulators have stepped in with a plan to change the law.

According to Karl Palmer of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, “What we are doing now in this process is just tweaking it a little, to adjust to the market as things change.”

The so-called “tweak” the state has in mind is to allow some of the old TV and monitor glass to go to a landfill.

“We are not just saying throw it in the trash. Let’s be clear what we are talking about is hazardous waste disposal in a fully regulated and managed facility,” Palmer said.

Consumers would still have to pay $6-10 in recycling fees every time they buy electronics.

“A recycling bill was passed to keep the glass out of the landfills, and now we are deciding that it’s just not convenient so we are going to put it in the landfill,” said McGeever.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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