Friday, October 3, 2008

From Stef at the DEP: TV disposal

If you're not in Maine, contact your state environmental agency or town office to find out what you can do with your old tv set...

Don't let your television end up In Our Back Yard
The Digital TV Transition May Make Many Televisions Obsolete
Been watching much television lately? If you have, then you have probably heard that big things are happening this coming February. On February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels.
Unfortunately, many of the television sets in people's homes cannot accept the digital broadcast signals. These analog televisions will not work with the digital broadcast signals after February 17, 2009, when the analog signals disappear. So what happens to the old set? For many people, their first response is, "Toss it! We need a new TV anyway."
And that's a real problem.
Televisions and other modern electronics contain dozens of metals, including many valuable ones like gold and silver. They also have lead, cadmium, and even mercury. If not recycled, if simply tossed into the garbage, we are potentially causing harm to the environment. Cast-off televisions have several toxic components. The glass in a TV screen alone contains anywhere from one to seven pounds of lead!
That is why Maine has an Electronics Waste (E-waste) Recycling Law. Because of their quantity and toxicity, used electronic products are the most rapidly growing problem in our waste stream. Used televisions and computer monitors can no longer be tossed in the trash. They must be recycled, and municipalities are responsible for ensuring their residents have a place to deliver their televisions and computer monitors for recycling. Many municipalities operate an on-going collection center, some do regular one-day collections, such as an "E-waste collection day", and others have their residents deliver their electronics directly to a near-by private Universal Waste management company. These collection sites ship the TVs and monitors to a recycler that maximizes the materials reclaimed for reuse and manages all hazardous materials in an environmentally-protective way. In 2006 and 2007, Maine residents recycled more than 8 million pounds of toxic electronics through this system, with the recycling paid for by the TV and monitor manufacturers,
But do you know what is even better than recycling your old television set? Keeping it, using it, and NOT buying a new one. For a net cost of approximately $30 you can buy a converter box that will keep your current analog television working with digital signals. To help consumers with the DTV transition, the Federal Government established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. You can get a coupon worth $40 toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes, and almost all the eligible converter boxes are well below $100. So keeping their current television set will be an attractive option to many people. Go to or call 1-888-388-2009 to apply for a coupon, and remember that you must have the coupon with you when you purchase your converter box.
Got cable? You don't need to get a new television. "Cable and satellite TV subscribers with analog TVs hooked up to their cable or satellite service should not be affected by the February 17, 2009 cut-off date for full-power analog broadcasting." (source: )
This article was submitted by Peter Moulton, an environmental engineer with the Maine DEP Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management.

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