The average household in the United States today actively uses at least two televisions. But with the rise of the modern flat-panel television comes the demise of the old cathode ray tube (CRT) ones — those fat, bulging boxes that have since found a permanent home in basements and attics.
These CRT TVs that still linger in households present a unique challenge to electronics recyclers everywhere since these televisions are packed full of harmful substances.
The average CRT contains about 6 pounds of lead, along with many other toxic materials. As you can see, the environmental consequences of improper tube TV disposal are significant.
Before we get to where to take old televisions, let us explain why you should do the right thing and recycle CRT TV units you might be hoarding.
You can dispose of a tube TV by bringing it to a registered and authorized recycling and disposal center that does CRT TV recycling.
But there are other options that you could consider, especially if the TV is still in working condition.
Here are 4 tips on how to dispose of tube TVs:
While the majority of households probably won’t have much use for one of these old televisions, there are still plenty of places that would accept them with open arms.
As long as it’s still in working order, you could contact some local schools, homeless support centers, non-profit organizations, Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
You can also check out options on Donation Town as they accept televisions and many other electronics.
Some TV manufacturers will accept an old TV to ensure that it is properly disposed of. Unfortunately, not all companies offer such return services for their products, so you will need to contact them first.
Here are the biggest brand names that have a returns policy in place:
We as a society have developed this mentality where everything CRT-based is obsolete and needs to be trashed. They’re a lot more robust than people think they are.
As long as your TV is not too old or overly damaged, then you might be surprised at how you can do some TV recycling for cash.
Try advertising it on Craigslist and see if there are any old school gamers who are often looking for an old TV that they can use with traditional 80s and 90s gaming consoles.
It’s also worth putting a notice up on a community notice board or at your local church. You might even find someone who’s will to offer a collection to save you time and effort.
And, eBay is always a good option to check how many people are still selling these TVs and how much people are willing to pay for them.
If all of the above methods of finding a new home fail, and you still don’t know where to take old TVs, then the safest thing you can do is drop it off, mail it in, or arrange a collection by a recycling firm like GreenCitizen.
You just need to be careful that you only deal with licensed recycling companies as these old tubes need special handling in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
With some companies, you have to pay for the service, but others will offer a free drop-off for a television that has past its usable days.
You can recycle your broken TV by dropping it off at GreenCitizen’s Burlingame EcoCenter if you are located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We offer free TV recycling services, plus we make sure that your TV will not be shipped overseas or dumped in a landfill. We work with an e-Stewards certified vendor to ensure the disposal is properly handled so as to avoid human and environmental hazards.
If you need CRTs collected from your business, you can also schedule a free collection with us.
If you’re wondering where to recycle old TVs outside the Bay Area, then you can easily mail it in to us. You can also use our Green Directory to search for an authorized recycling center closest to you.
And if you need more information on the process, then use the contact page to e-mail us.
We have some news for all of you out there who spent thousands of dollars on a fancy widescreen cathode ray tube in the 90s:
That TV is worthless.
Best thing you can do is get rid of it by recycling it.
And by doing so, you might even score some brownie points with your significant other by finally making some valuable storage space available.
If that still doesn’t convince you, here are other reasons why it’s important that you properly recycle that tube TV:
Depending on the age of the TV, there will be varying amounts of lead, cadmium, phosphorus, mercury, and beryllium contained in them.
You’ll find all of these on the periodic table, and if you paid enough attention in high school, you’ll remember that they are all toxic to human, animal, and plant life.
However, when these CRTs are properly dismantled and recycled, then some of those materials can be reused in new products or other appliances.
As a result, less invasive and environmentally harmful mining will need to take place.
According to some estimates, there are around 5 billion pounds worth of CRT e-waste left in thousands of households all over the United States.
That is a staggering amount, but when you realize that many of these date back from the 70s to the early 2000s, then you’ll understand how there could be so many of them tucked away in basements.
Maybe it’s because it seems so much easier to just leave them in place and not risk a trip to the chiropractor, but they’re still considered as e-waste.
Which means that in the long term, tube TV recycling and disposal should still be the top priority for everyone.
If you still have one of these hidden away somewhere, you might not be planning to illegally dump it on the street or throw it into a dumpster in a dark alley.
But that doesn’t mean that the next occupant of your home won’t do so. The problem is that when these devices make their way to the landfill, they’ll deteriorate when exposed to the elements.
When that happens, those hazardous materials mentioned above can make it deep into the water system. And that is water that could be used to irrigate crops or made into drinking water.
The biggest problem with disposal of CRTs is the glass tube that they contain. This tube contains a lot of lead, and the demand for such glass has basically gone to zero.
Modern flatscreen technology doesn’t require any such glass, and there are no other large-scale uses for it, so it has essentially become obsolete.
Unfortunately, tube TV disposal methods and technology don’t exist at this time to safely extract the lead from the glass, although laboratory testing is underway.
A typical CRT has between 4 and 8 pounds of lead, almost all of which is in the funnel. The leaded glass needs to be processed, stored and transported without causing environmental contamination.
Megan Quinn, Eco Writer
Some minor demand has come from innovative companies that make new products out of them, like Fireclay Tile. However, it’s unlikely to put much of a dent in the huge supply of this glass.
For a lot of recycling and disposal companies, CRT disposal means storing as much of this glass as possible.
Essentially, old computer monitors have to follow the same path as old TV screens.
The technology is the same, but there is one thing we would add here. While you might be able to give a CRT TV away for free, it might not be the same with computer monitors.
Why, you ask?
It's because new computers use a completely different connection technology. This makes them incompatible with old monitors — essentially making old computer monitors obsolete.
The best thing you can do with those monitors is to recycle them. Good thing is pretty much all electronics recycling and disposal services will also accept old computer monitors.
Yes, Best Buy takes old TVs to recycle, regardless of whether you bought the old TV with them or not. They also offer collection services for a fee, which may save you some time and backbreaking hassle.
GreenCitizen and other recycling centers will pick up old tube TVs. GreenCitizen does it for free, but do note that other recyclers might charge you for it. You might also find some non-profit and charitable organizations that will collect it for free if you plan to give it away.
It usually doesn’t cost you anything to get rid of an old TV. However, you may need to ask for some help to carry it into your car to bring it to a licensed recycling center.
No, Walmart doesn’t directly take old TVs and instead uses a CRT recycler called CExchange. This is mainly used for any items and products that don’t have any trade-in value.
GreenCitizen will pick up old TVs for free but we have quantity requirements if you're a business in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you're an individual, however, you can drop off your old TV with us for free (as long as you're a California resident). Other recycling services, charities and non-profit organizations might also do the same. Take note though that not all recycling services will offer a free collection or pickup because CRT recycling results in negative costs for proper disposal.
Best Buy charges $25 to recycle a TV or old computer monitors. This is mainly down to the significant costs involved in properly dealing with the toxic materials used in the glass tubes.
Yes, you can get money for old TVs as long as they are still in good working condition and are not too outdated. Old school gamers will most probably be interested in those since their old consoles no longer work with the new TV technology available.
Yes, Goodwill sometimes accepts old TVs. In some cases, they might be used in shelters as long as they still work. Before you just drop it off, though, please call your local Goodwill to make sure they would actually take it.
No, you cannot scrap a TV, especially the older CRT style ones. These items contain a lot of toxic materials so you will need to bring them to a recycling center in your area for proper disposal.
At this stage, you should have enough information about why you shouldn’t just leave your old TV on the curb. When it comes to properly recycling CRT televisions, it’s important to give your TV to a recycling service, but not just to any recycling service.
At GreenCitizen, we make sure that toxic materials from your CRT TV won’t illegally end up in a landfill or exported to a poor developing country. So if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can ask us to pick up your old CRTs or computer monitors from your home or office, or you can drop them off at our Burlingame EcoCenter.
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