An estimated 5.1 million Americans bought new TVs in anticipation of last Sunday's Super Bowl. But what happened to their old televisions?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 27.2 million TVs are ready for disposal, but only 4.6 million of them will be recycled.
"Many people are puzzled by what to do with the old set once the new one arrives," said Steve Skurnac, president of Sims Recycling Solutions.
"Don't toss it in the trash," he said. "TVs contain toxic substances that are harmful to human health and the environment. For older cathode ray tube TVs, the culprit is lead. In LCD and plasma sets, it's mercury. If TVs are placed in the same waste stream as your household garbage, these heavy metals can leach out of landfills and contaminate soil and groundwater."
Sims ranks among the nation's largest recyclers of electronics. Its Roseville location at 8855 Washington Blvd. hosts free drop-off of televisions, computers and other electronics from 3 to 7 p.m. the first Friday of each month. The next drop-off will be March 2. (Click on http://us.simsrecycling.com/first-friday for more details.)
Besides Sims' drop-off days, Skurnac suggested donating old TVs to e-waste roundup events hosted by local charities. It's a way to help out an organization while also keeping the TV out of a landfill.
"The economic slowdown has taken a bite out of nonprofit budgets, so recycling your TV can benefit an organization in need while also protecting the environment," Skurnac said.
Another option: Ask the retailer where you bought the new set to recycle the old one. Several stores now offer that as an option, often for free.
If the set and the remote still work, consider reselling the television or giving it to a charity, school, relative or friend.
"Reuse increases the life of these items and delays their entrance into the waste stream," Skurnac said.