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When the analog signal we have enjoyed for so long rides off into the sunset, what decision will you have made for the television(s) that is currently in your home?
Some of you may have elected to purchase a new television that is capable of receiving the digital signal. Others will elect to subscribe to either satellite or cable services that requires them to do nothing more.
If you have an older television that you no longer want, what options do you have? Having served well, it is still usable with the converter box, or even with the various services to subscribe to.
But, for those looking for a place to discard the old television, look well before you just drop it off somewhere. A landfill is no place for outdated electronics but there are relatively few places to recycle old televisions.
First of all, ask friends and family if they would like the old set. If that doesn’t pan out, ask your local thrift stores if they will take them. Know that many are no longer accepting these sets, as without the converter box the store must pay to have them hauled away.
“The only old TVs that we will accept are those that you can hook cable to,” replied Judy Zilliox of Salvation Army in Richmond. “If they’re not cable ready, then we have to just haul them off.”
Having your set “hauled off” is not in your best interest. Indeed, it isn’t in the world’s best interest either.
A television thrown into a landfill is hazardous waste, because it contains non-decomposing plastics as well as dangerous toxins, such as mercury and lead that can contaminate soil and drinking water. Earth911.com indicated, “While e-waste recycling only accounts for two percent of the U.S.’ garbage in landfills, it accounts for 70 percent of overall toxic garbage.”
Recycling electronic items is actually a complicated and mostly unprofitable business. Some items do not require sorting or separation, but electronic devices are composed of many materials. For instance, to remove lead in computer monitor glass requires it to be placed into a furnace.
“The fact that these items are being reused is far more important than any monetary benefits of recovering these valuable materials. However, e-waste recyclers are also recycling and reusing materials that aren’t nearly as valuable.” (Earth911.com)
Ensure that the outdated item, whether it is a television, computer monitor or any electronic item, is properly discarded. Known as e-waste recycling, reputable recyclers operate under strict environmental controls and high-worker safety protections, according to Earth911.com.
Many recyclers want to save electronic items from winding up in the landfill and to get the value available from the recycled materials. Valuable metals, such as gold and copper, can be separated, sold and reused.
Earth 911.com encourages asking the following questions of the recycler you have selected:
1. Is the recycler certified (such as an ISO 14001 environmental management
certification) and does it follow a set of industry recognized guidelines?
2. Does the recycler actually recycle most of the e-waste materials collected? It is best if the company can recycle 90 percent or more of the materials.
3. Does the recycler have written procedures for removing and disposing of
mercury lamps in electronic products? Many manufacturer and government-sponsored programs have extensive online information detailing the way in which recycling is handled.
There are other questions you will want answered too. Mid-America Regional Council lists the following questions to ask on their web site: “How do you ensure data security? Do you offer a wiping service? (If they do, ask if it meets National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual or DoD 5220.22-M standards.)
How are your electronics are processed once they receive them? An electronics recycler can utilize a variety of processing methods, including brokering: matching buyers and sellers; resale of whole units; manufacturing or refurbishing equipment; de-manufacturing: disassembling into parts and subassemblies; material recovery: physical separation to capture plastics, metals and glass, etc.; material processing such as shredding and grinding; and donation to schools, non-profit organizations, etc.”
Another option for discarding your old television is to contact the company of the television brand you own, such as Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba. Many are already expanding their recycling operations and have hundreds of locations where consumers may recycle their old electronic devices.
A partial list of local companies and organizations, compiled with the assistance of Outreach Coordinator Matt Riggs at Mid- America Regional Council Solid Water Management District, that will take televisions for recycling include:
Best Buy – starting Feb. 15, consumers can bring up to two televisions per day, per household, for recycling at any U.S. Best Buy store which will also accept most consumer electronics, including televisions and monitors up to 32 inches. For more information visit: www.bestbuy.com.
Electronic Disposal Technologies, Inc., 1525 W. 9th St., Kansas City, Mo., 64101. They are in the process of moving into this facility from a smaller building. They are not accepting televisions for now, but expect to resume this summer. Call 816-210-3015 for more information.
Forerunner Recycling, 8240 E. Bannister Rd., Kansas City, Mo., 64138 or call 816-807-5454.
Office Depot (small televisions only) – visit www.officedepot.com and click on Our Services and Tech Recycling.
The Surplus Exchange, 518 Santa Fe, Kansas City, Mo., 64105 or call 816-472-0444 for more information.
When The Daily News contacted The Surplus Exchange, we were told it costs .35 per pound for each television brought in. The individual said that offsets costs so that nothing goes to the landfill. That person also stated they were the “only place BAN (Basel Action Network) certified so that it doesn’t wind up in the landfill.
Recycling Operations Manager Richard Gordon of The Surplus Exchange said, “It can cost as much as $20 per television, depending on its size. It costs money to de-manufacture electronics. The materials aren’t worth the amount it costs to de-manufacture.”
Gordon cautioned, “If someone is setting up a recycling day and not charging a fee, it’s a red flag. A reputable recycler of e-waste is crucial. If someone is taking it ‘for free,’ you know they’re shipping them in containers to third world countries to be dumped.” Eighty percent of electronic waste is dumped in third world countries, like China, India and Africa. Children go through the dumps and pull the wires. It’s creating horrible problems, and these people don’t know what it’s doing to them.”
The EPA is encouraging electronics retailers and TV manufacturers to “help support TV recycling opportunities by issuing a National TV Recycling Challenge to stimulate innovation and partnerships to increase TV recycling in 2009 and beyond.” The challenge period extends from Jan. 1, 2009 – Aug. 31, 2009.
For additional information on e-waste and recycling efforts, please see e-cycleMissouri, Plug-In To ECycling, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.epaeaste.gov and www.RecycleSpot.org.