Tube TV Disposal: How Can You Dispose of and Recycle Your CRT TV?

Featured image for tube tv disposal article

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.

The Dos And Don’ts Of CRT TV Disposal

DO​S

  • Recycle your CRT TV with a certified vendor. (How? We’ll explain more below.)
  • Check earth911.com’s directory to search for the closest electronics recycling and disposal center to you.

DON'TS

  • Don't just leave your CRT TV on the curb — nobody wants it! If you put it on the curb, it will sit there exposed to the elements where heat, cold, and rain can make things even worse.
  • Don't put your CRT TV in the trash — this is illegal and harms the environment.

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.

Why It’s Important To Recycle A Tube TV

We have some news for all of you out there who spent thousands of dollars on a fancy widescreen CRT in the 90s:

That TV is worthless.

Best thing you can do is get rid of it by recycling it.

According to some estimates, there are around 5 billion pounds worth of CRT e-waste left in American households.

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:

CRTs contain hazardous materials.

Depending on the age of the TV, there will be varying amounts of lead, cadmium, phosphorus, mercury, and beryllium contained in them. [1]

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.

hazardous materials during tube tv disposal

CRTs contribute to outstanding waste.

ewaste from tube tv recycling

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.

Irresponsible disposal of CRTs has serious environmental implications.

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.

being irresponsible with crt tv disposal

Why It’s Hard To Recycle CRT Televisions

fireclay tiles using glass from crt tv

CRT glass in Fireclay Tile's factory (Source: Fireclay Tile)

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. [2]

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. [3]

But in many states, including California, they have to resort to allowing them to be stored in landfills for two years until they can be processed.

crt tv glass turned into fireclay tiles

Tiles made from CRT glass (Source: Fireclay Tile)

How Do I Dispose Of A Tube TV?

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:

1. Donate It

crt tv for donation

Photo by: Joe Raedle (Source: NBC News)​

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, and even some thrift stores.

Just call or send them an email with a picture of it before you decide to drop it off.

2. Return It To The Manufacturer

Quite a few 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.

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.


Ian Primus, IT Repair Technician and CRT Aficionado

3. Sell Or Give It Away

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. [4]

tube tv being used by an old school gamer

4. Bring It To An Electronics Recycling Facility

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 at a recycling and disposal firm like GreenCitizen that will recycle tube TVs in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

Don’t put your CRT TV in the trash – this is illegal and harms the environment.

How About Old Computer Monitors?

computer monitor that is already old

Basically, 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 and, therefore, are unlikely to be compatible 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.

How Can I Replace My Old TV?

If you still have an old cathode ray tube TV, you might find that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a use for them in our technologically advanced world.

The good news is that modern flat screens have become very affordable, and if you’re able to sell your old TV, then you might have the cash to pick up one of the newer models out in the market today.

One of those newer models that caught our eye is the Sony 49G 4K HDR TV. It seems that Sony has put a lot of effort into making this TV energy efficient, which is always good news for us here at GreenCitizen.

This is because an energy efficient TV like the Sony 49G 4K HDR TV can help you cut down on electricity costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s great about this TV is it’s not only good for the environment, it’s also good for your eyes. It uses the latest screen technology for a crystal sharp picture, which means that you’ll no longer need to strain your eyes when watching darkly lit movies. It also means incredible colors and picture quality even during bright, summer days.

Sony 49G 4K HDR TV screen

A similar and slightly cheaper option is the LG C9 OLED TV. The picture quality is just as impressive, and the energy efficiency is comparable to the Sony 49G 4K HDR TV, even if the sound can sometimes come across as slightly echoed.

LG C9 OLED TV screen

If you need a bigger screen, then you might be more interested in the 85-inch monstrosity that is the Samsung Q90 QLED TV. From an energy consumption point of view, it’s not as good as what Sony or LG has to offer though. The built-in voice control also isn’t very reliable, to be honest.

Samsung Q90 QLED TV screen

A slightly more affordable option is the VIZIO P-Series Quantum. It’s good value for money, so you can still set up a home cinema even when you’re on a budget. But bear in mind that there are complaints floating around about its sound cutting out sporadically, which could be quite annoying in the middle of a movie.

VIZIO P Series Quantum TV screen

Where Can I Recycle My Broken TV?

greencitizen does crt tv recycling

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 and disposal 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 use earth911.com’s directory to search for an authorized recycling center closest to you.

FAQ

Does Best Buy take old TVs to recycle?

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.

Who will pick up old tube TVs?

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.

How much does it cost to get rid of an old TV?

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.

Does Walmart take old TVs?

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.

Who will pick up old TVs for free?

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.

How much does Best Buy charge to recycle a TV?

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.

Can you get money for old TVs?

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.

Does Goodwill accept old TVs?

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.

Can you scrap a TV?

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.

Conclusion

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.

If you found this article useful, feel free to check out other articles on sustainable electronics disposal and recycling on our blog.

After you've properly recycled your old tube TV, why don't you check out newer TV models in our Green Store? It's always stocked full of of electronics and eco-friendly products for you.


References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20056318
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878029616001213
  3. https://www.epa.gov/smm-electronics/regulations-initiatives-and-research-electronics-stewardship
  4. https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/6/16973914/tvs-crt-restoration-led-gaming-vintage

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