Abstract Waste cathode ray-tube (CRT) funnel glass is classified as hazardous waste since it contains high amount of lead. In the present study, a novel process for lead nanopowder synthesis from this type of glass was developed by combining vacuum carbon–thermal reduction and inert-gas consolidation procedures. The key trait of the process was to evaporate lead out of the glass to obtain harmless glass powder and synchronously produce lead nanoparticles. In the synthesis process, lead oxide in the funnel glass was firstly reduced to elemental lead, and evaporated rapidly in vacuum circumstance, then quenched and formed nano-size particles on the surface of the cooling device. Experimental results showed that temperature, pressure and argon gas flow rate were the major parameters controlling lead evaporation ratio and the morphology of lead nanoparticles. The maximum lead evaporation ratio was 96.8% and particles of 4–34 nm were successfully obtained by controlling the temperature, holding time, process pressure, argon gas flow rate at 1000 °C, 2–4 h, 500–2000 Pa, 50–200 ml/min, respectively. Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) results showed that lead leaching from the residue glass met the USEPA threshold. Accordingly, this study developed a practical and environmental-friendly process for detoxification and reclamation of waste lead-containing glass.