Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Horrors - I Had No Idea!

Environmental and disposal issues with old tvs as people buy flat-panel, plasma tvs! I have only imagined this horror -- now I don't have to imagine it anymore. I am including the whole story from USA Today, Nov. 29, since I don't know how to do a link. I had no idea and this is terrible.

.....story follows in full...

As flat-panels oust older TVs, disposal fears arise
Mon Nov 29, 6:30 AM ET
By Michelle Kessler, USA TODAY

Soaring sales of flat-panel televisions this holiday are expected to spark one of tech's toughest environmental challenges: disposing of millions of old, toxic TVs. Almost 4 million flat-panel TVs are expected to be sold worldwide this year, says researcher DisplaySearch. Most will replace traditional cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs, which usually contain 4 to 8 pounds of lead and other harmful substances.
New TV buyers have historically stashed old units in bedrooms, basements and closets instead of throwing them away, says Sheila Davis with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, an environmental group. But the move to flat-panel makes old sets less desirable; so does a switch to new digital broadcasting signals, which older TVs can't pick up without a converter.
By the time flat-panel and digital TVs are mainstream in 2006, more than 163,000 TVs and computers are expected to become obsolete in the USA every day, the SVTC says. That's 3,500 tons of material that can contaminate groundwater and soil if tossed into landfills. But recycling a CRT set costs $20 to $30 - which means the bill to properly dispose of them would be about $100 million a month.
What to do with all that toxic trash "is a big, big question," says Jim Sheire, government programs manager for TV maker Philips.
No major TV maker regularly lets consumers send back old sets for recycling. Philips, Sony, Panasonic and others sponsor recycling collection days held by cities and other groups, but have no ongoing collection drives. Hewlett-Packard and Office Depot earlier this year let customers drop off electronics for free recycling, but the program ended in September.
To get rid of old sets, consumers can take them to:
•Recycling agencies. Many third-party recyclers will take your old TVs and computer monitors. But expect them to charge you about $30, because breaking down old sets is tough, and few components can be resold.
•Charities. Non-profit agencies such as Goodwill will take working sets. But don't drop off old or broken sets without asking. Recycling unusable TVs costs Goodwill thousands a year, it says.
•Dumpsters. The cheapest way to get rid of an old TV is to toss it in the garbage. But that could cause the harmful chemicals in the set to contaminate groundwater and soil, and it could be illegal. California recently passed a law banning residents from throwing away old CRT sets. At least 26 other states are considering similar legislation.
Getting rid of old TVs might not always be hard. Sony, Panasonic and others say they're working to reduce the number of toxins in sets to make them more recyclable. Next year, California will tack a $6 to $10 surcharge onto new TVs and monitors to fund recycling programs. TV manufacturers like California's plan because it doesn't make them responsible for old sets. But other states, such as Maine, might require them to do more. "

....oh my goodness, we bought a new, flat screen tv last year! We have not given any old ones away for a long time except to be used for Patient Education at the UCSF-Mt. Zion Cancer Center.