Fast Forward

Help File: Recycling Old Electronics

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, July 5, 2009

QI've got an old analog TV collecting dust at home. How can I recycle or safely dispose of it?

ATh e environmental hazards of old television sets and other consumer-electronics detritus -- for instance, lead in a TV's cathode-ray tube and mercury in a flat-panel screen -- haven't grown less serious. But your choices for minimizing those risks have improved since I wrote about them last summer.

First, you can try to sell or donate the old set. Several readers have said they've found a home for an old TV through the Freecycle site (

If that doesn't work, most cities and counties allow residents to drop off old electronics for safe disposal. But drop-off events may not happen every week and may require a trek to a distant trash-transfer station; check your local government's Web site or call its recycling office for details.

Most of those programs charge a small fee, $10 to $20 a set, to cover the cost of breaking down a TV safely. But you may be able to lower your cost if you use a store or manufacturer's recycling program. Best Buy ( accepts two items a day per household; although it charges $10 for most TV sets, it provides a $10 store gift card in return.

Some manufacturers will take back their old products free at designated sites, with items from other vendors accepted for a small fee. Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba (; LG (; Samsung (; and Sony (, among others, have set up recycling programs along these lines. You can also

consult a site run by the Consumer Electronics Assocation, myGreenElectronics (, which offers a searchable database of services.

For an independent evaluation of recycling efforts, see the grades posted by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or Visit for his Faster Forward blog.

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