How to Dispose of an Old Television

Televisions, especially old telvisions, are full of potentially hazardous bits and pieces. Resist the temptation to put your old TV out with the garbage; your garbage people might refuse it, you could harm the environment if they take it and, in some places, you could even be committing a crime. The lead inside your CRT television is considered a hazardous material, and improper disposal of these electronics can release lead into groundwater supplies, polluting the environment and causing potential health hazards.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
If it's good enough for your garbage, it's good enough for your television, and this mantra is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when considering how to dispose of your old television. Can you use it in another room of the house? With the increasing popularity of LCD and HDTVs, many households are now replacing their primary television with these technologies. However, second televisions are much lower on the priority list to upgrade. Do your kids need a television for their video game systems? Could you use a second television to watch the news at night in the bedroom? Consider ways you can reduce waste by keeping the television in use.

If you're upgrading your television and already have all your secondary TV needs covered, consider selling it or donating it so someone can reuse it. Some organizations accept appliances and electronics as tax-deductible donations. Your loss could be someone else's gain, and a tax deduction can be a nice boon if you itemize your taxes. Selling an old television can net you a few bucks, and old TVs will always be in popular demand among those that don't want to spend money upgrading to expensive new technology. Look at your local classified section or bulletin board. See similar televisions being sold? List yours, and you might find someone paying for the privilege of taking your old TV away. If you can't find a buyer, check with a local TV repair shop and see if they're interested in repairing and selling your old television. You've got several options to make sure your TV stays in circulation and avoid disposal issues.

If you can't find a buyer, offer it up for free on or another bulletin board. Professional artists and students are often looking for old televisions for projects. You could also donate the set to Goodwill or another charitable organization, but call ahead before dropping it off. Because of the difficulties in disposing of old televisions, some thrift organizations won't accept them anymore.

If you must dispose of the set yourself, check with your local city hall or municipal waste disposal facility for information on television recycling programs. Simply throwing a CRT in the trash is actually a crime in some states. Most communities have one or two days a year when they will pick up hazardous materials, including televisions. Alternately, you can pay a fee to have it disposed of properly.

Is it worth anything?
With the switchover to digital broadcasting, older CRT TVs that lack digital ATSC tuners won't work without a cable television, satellite television or digital converter box, although they're still useful for DVD players and video game systems that don't need live television signals.

In general, there's little to no demand for CRT televisions made between 1980 and 2000 that use solid-state technology. However, some sets made before 1980 are highly desirable to collectors. These sets use vacuum tubes rather than transistors, and the tubes inside are useful in older radios, amplifiers and sound systems. If your TV has tubes inside, check with a specialty or antique electronic repair shop in your area to see if anyone would want it. Very early televisions made before 1965 may also have collector value as antiques.

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