Warning: Don't Trash That Analog TV

Your old TV can be recycled. (Photo: Ruocaled [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Depending on how old and how large your TV is, your analog beast could be toting around eight pounds of lead and other heavy metals such as barium, cadmium and chromium (let's assume four pounds per set is average). If you multiply all that lead by 100 million (the estimated number of analog TVs in current use or storage) you get a frightening figure -- 200,000 tons of heavy metals that eventually need proper disposal.

The good news is that plenty of people are perfectly happy with their analogs. Only 12.6 million households (11 percent) receive OTA (over-the-air) signals. Everyone else is on cable or already has a digital set-top converter, and for those folks an analog television works just fine. As long as they keep their cable they never have to switch to a digital TV, unless of course they want hi-def.

The bad news is that a whole lot of people will be dumping their old sets. Secondhand stores like Goodwill have stopped accepting old televisions, and though most municipalities have banned cathode tube televisions, there are still plenty of ways for crafty dumpster dumpers to get rid of those unwanted sets illegally.

According to the latest government stats, over 60 million people have already requested coupons to replace their analog TV sets. Of those, 30 million have received them. Though many people will likely stash their analogs in the garage for a while, we can safely assume tens of millions of sets will be discarded in the next few months.

So for those of you about to toss your analog TV, please follow these steps:

1. If you have a Toshiba, Sharp or Panasonic set, you can bring it in free of charge to one of 280 locations nationwide. Click below to find one near you.

2. If you don't have one of the above brands and your set is smaller than 32" (and not a historic artifact) you can take it into Best Buy. They rock!

3. If neither of the above strategies work, check one of the recycling guides below. Earth 911 in particular has a really great local (ZIP code based) guide to recycling e-waste including TVs. In some cases, you will have to pay by weight for the disposal of your set.

National Recycling Coalition

5. Make sure and read MNN's guide to recycling e-waste.