TVs ending up in the dumps because they are too expensive to recycle

SCTV credits
Screen capture SCTC credits season II

If only life were like an SCTV show where one could just heave your old television set or computer monitor out the window. In many parts of the country, people are doing the next best thing, which is dump them wherever they can. TVs are supposed to be recycled, but there is no market for the tons of glass that the cathode ray tubes are made of; it is full of lead to keep those rays inside the tube.

In West Virginia, they even changed the laws so that TVs could be dumped in landfills again. According to NBC,

"There really isn't a viable option for recycling CRT TVs, at least in the state of West Virginia," said Young, the Kanawha County waste agency executive. Kanawha County is home to Charleston, the largest city in the state. It costs the city about $40 a pound to process a ton of trash, a cost that skyrockets to $360 a pound for electronics waste. Many small towns in the county are unable to cope with the cost of recycling, he said. And with few companies and no landfills willing to take CRT TVs, residents sometimes just leave their old sets on the side of the road.

Best Buy, which used to take back e-waste including TVs, has had to start charging customers $25 a box.

"Our goal has always been to simply break even on our recycling program, and we're not there today," the company said in a statement. "The new fees will help cover the increasing cost of managing TV and monitor disposal through our network of stores, distribution centers and recycling partners."

At that price, a lot of old TVs are likely to end up in the back 40 or the river.

Recycled CRT glass tiles© Fireclay Tile

There are some creative uses that it can be put to; Fireclay Tile makes glass tiles out of old CRTs. Given the amount of lead that is sequestered in the glass, they might make great glass bricks for houses near nuclear plants. There are so many of them; It is hard to think of another product that got obsolete so fast. And there must still be a long way to go:

There are millions of old CRT televisions tucked away in basements and spare bedrooms across America. In 2015, Americans had around 5 billion pounds worth of CRT TVs in their homes, according to a survey from the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC), a pro-recycling nonprofit organization. "It's a long-lasting technology," said Jason Linnell, executive director of the ERCC. Not only can CRT TVs last for 20 to 30 years, they are also extremely heavy, so people tend to procrastinate when it comes to getting rid of them.

MZTV© MZTV Television Museum

There is a Museum of Television in Toronto; if you have a nice one in your basement, perhaps you can donate it.

Tags: Electronics | Recycling | Waste


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