“Though the useful life of an analog TV set can be extended using a digital converter box, it is estimated that one in every four American households will be discarding a television set in the next year,” writes Bard Cole of WKNO-TV in Memphis, in an article in the November issue of the Tennes-Serrian, the newsletter for the Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club. “What’s going to happen to all the TVs consumers will be tossing?”
“Unfortunately,” he adds, “the answer to this question may not be reassuring to people who are concerned about the environment. TV sets contain cadmium and lead – in the case of some older TVs, as much as eight pounds of lead – as well as metals like mercury, chromium, nickel and zinc. Dumped into landfills, these metals can leach into groundwater. Once the toxins are into the aquifer they would be a significant health issue to any living organism, and are particularly harmful to humans at any age.”
Bard goes on to explain that although many of the components in TVs, and many electronics, are recyclable, it’s just not so easy to do so in Tennessee. There are municipal drives to collect electronics, but “many simply collect these items with other household trash,” he writes.
What to do?
There are companies, like 5R Processors Ltd. in Tennessee, that will take your old electronics and disassemble them to salvage usable materials for recycling. Learn more about these companies, and what to with your old TVs and electronics at mygreenelectronics.com and treehugger.com.
For more about the DTV transition, and how to apply for a converter box coupon (so you can continue to use your existing analog TV set) visit dtv2009.gov.