By Wes Muir, Director, Communications, Waste Management
Just this week, TV land will witness a dramatic change in the way it operates. As of Friday, June 12, all television stations will make the transition from analog to digital broadcasting, leaving many outdated television sets in the dust. But trashing these old TVs doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll go to waste.
With all broadcast signals available in digital format only, there’s no longer use for your analog television. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates that 95 percent of unused analog TVs will be sold, donated or recycled following the DTV transition. Many of these are expected to enter the typical waste stream, i.e. left on the curb for your garbage man to collect.
If you are considering an upgrade to a new digital television, and want to send your current set to the local landfill, rethink your options. Instead, think about how you can do your part to help the environment. Several parts of your TV set can be recycled, such as the glass screen, the plastic casing or pieces of metal in the circuit boards.
Electronics recycling is nothing new – there are currently more than 200 e-cycling drop-off points throughout the U.S. At these locations, consumers can recycle old televisions, as well as a multitude of other electronic devices, such as cell phones, laptops and PDAs. With approximately 24 electronic products per household, according to the CEA, there is certainly an opportunity to give these materials a second life, rather than letting them take up space in a landfill.
Plus, recycling these products reduces the amount of raw materials extracted, as well as energy needed to make new electronics. The EPA reports that “recycling one million desktop computers prevents the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of over 17,000 passenger cars,” and likewise, “recycling one million cell phones saves enough energy to power more than 19,000 U.S. households” per year.
Managing end-of-life electronics has become quite simple due to legislation passed in many states, as well as the availability of e-cycling locations provided by communities and businesses. For example, New York passed its State Wireless Recycling Act in 2007 which requires wireless phone providers to accept cell phones for reuse or recycling. Many other states have followed suit.
Additionally, there are several regional and retailer e-cycling programs, many of which have been developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through its Plug-In to eCycling Partners program. Companies participating in this program include many cell phone, computer and television retailers, including Dell, Sony and LG. These retailers allow consumers to bring in or send back electronics for safe recycling.
Since some electronics are considered “hazardous,” or contain materials that can cause harm if left in a landfill, EPA strongly encourages the reuse or recycling of these products. The Federal government has put several regulations in place for the safe handling of these materials, which you can read about here.
Switching from analog to digital broadcasting presents a great opportunity for enhanced television viewing, including clearer picture and sound. As you upgrade to this new TV viewing experience, remember that your old television, and the materials used to build it, can serve an even greater purpose.