May 14, 2009
| by Steven Castle
Want to toss out that old CRT TV—or any other old electronics—but you don’t know how?
Yep, in some states it’s illegal to toss those old TVs in the landfill. They contain lead and other toxins that can leach into groundwater. Some states have laws that mandate that manufacturers take responsibility for recycling (or e-cycling) old TVs and other electronics. Massachusetts is considering one this week.
Eighteen states and New York City already have e-cycling laws, with programs in place or about to start, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia.
However, TVs are not yet a part of programs in Hawaii, Missouri, Oklahama, Texas and Virginia, though it is being considered in several of those states. There are also different ways these programs are set up and who pays for them, as explained in this article on the free of fee-based models.
For those who just want to know where and how to get of that thing, here are six ways:
- Check the Electronic Takeback Coalition‘s comprehensive chart of E-Waste laws and pending legislation by state. There’s also a chart comparing what can be recycled in each state, and a detailed description of each law. (pdf links)
- Find listings of local e-waste collection sites at E-Cycling Central and Mygreenelectronics. Many are municipal facilities that will only accept waste from that city or town’s residents, but private e-cyclers and others are listed as well. Other helpful information services are listed here.
- Look for hazardous waste collection days in your community. Many cities and towns sponsor these for their residents to dispose of electronics, appliances and household chemicals, through recycling companies.
- Check with TV and electronics manufacturers on their programs. There are listings of these services at Mygreenelectronics and Green Electronics.com. Sony has free take-back sites throughout the country. MRM, a joint venture between Panasonic, Toshiba and Sharp, offers 250 locations for recycling and is adding more. Samsung has a program for Samsung products (takeback of other brands are charged a fee.) Others, like Dell and Apple, offer free recycling with the purchase of a new product. HP and others have trade-in programs.
- Some retail stores offer recycling programs, though many come with shopping incentive caveats. Best Buy will now take many electronics at all its U.S. retail stores, though there is a $10 charge for TVs 32 inches and under, CRTs, monitors and laptops, offset by $10 Best Buy gift card. Office Depot is offering free recycling with Zip Express service. And Staples frequently runs recycling promotions.
- You can ensure a TV or other device will be recycled or reused when you purchase it, through TechForward’s buy-back program that locks in a value for your product upon its purchase and depending on how long you keep it. The product is then resold, reused or recycled responsibly.
Will Your Electronics Be Discarded Responsibly?
It’s always a good idea to check with a recycler to find out if your old electronics will be disassembled and its contents discarded responsibly.
Some recyclers ship the products overseas, where they are dangerously smashed, taken apart and burned by children and low-wage workers, which pretty much abolishes the green plans you may have started with.
Save it, Instead
Instead of tossing that old CRT, you could always keep it as a secondary or backup monitor until it croaks. Despite our love affair with flat-panel technology, CRTs still display some of the smoothest, most film-like images—and studies show they consume less power, on average, than LCDs or plasmas.
If you’re concerned about the Digital TV transition, your old analog TV will still work if attached to cable or satellite. Or you also can get a converter box for an aerial antenna connection. You don’t have to toss it out. And if you’re really concerned about the amount of power used by your TV, consider this article on our flat-panel power consumption going forward.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates