If you have an old television that doesn’t work anymore, it’s tempting to just throw it in the trash, but there are many reasons why this isn’t the best idea. Old TVs contain hazardous materials (lead, mercury, and other toxins) that can leak into the soil or contaminate water sources when improperly disposed of.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re ready to get rid of your old TV but want to do so in an environmentally-friendly way, check out the following approaches you can take to get rid of your old TV without hurting the environment.
How Can I Safely Dispose of Old TV
You may dispose of electronic garbage locally using the following eco-friendly waste disposal methods:
1. Take It To An Electronics Recycler
Many companies specializing in electronics recycling are on a mission to reduce global e-waste. Make sure you recycle responsibly and not just drop your old set off at Goodwill; use only certified recyclers who know how to safely dismantle, store, transport, and recycle hazardous materials.Many of these companies will take your old electronics for free or pay you for them.
If that’s not an option, call your local trash company and ask if they offer any electronic waste collection program or an e-waste event where you can bring your device(s).
Electronics should never go into landfills, as they are often laden with toxic materials like lead and mercury, which can leak into groundwater supplies and harm both humans and wildlife. Recycling is always better than trashing.
Of course, whatever you do make sure to handle old televisions appropriately. Don’t try to repair them yourself or allow kids and pets near them—the dangers posed by electric components could be life-threatening if handled improperly. (You’ll find out why below.)
Instead, look up where you can dispose of your TV online before deciding what route to take with it next.
2. Sell It On Craigslist Or At A Garage Sale
Selling your TV online or at a garage sale is an easy way to get rid of it, but you’ll probably lose money. Scour sites like Craigslist and OfferUp gives you similar prices. If you want to cash in big, look up items that are being sold on Amazon, eBay, or other e-commerce platforms.
You might be able to sell it there for more—or even use Fulfillment by Amazon so someone else can store and ship it. Look up local laws about reselling electronics before you do anything. Some municipalities have strict rules about when and how you can resell certain products.
There are many other electronics and places you can sell. You learn how to go about it from our guide on How to Dispose of Electronic.
3. Donate It
If you don’t want to sell or recycle your TV, consider donating it instead. Many charities accept working electronics like computers and televisions, especially during the back-to-school season. Check out Goodwill’s list of local donation centers here. You can also check with local schools and non-profits organization in your area to see if they accept donations.
Not only does donating your old electronics keep them out of landfills, but it also helps them make their way into needy hands. That’s a win-win situation.
Just be sure to first see if you can fix those problems (such as cracked screens) before trying to sell or donate your TV.
A list of charity organizations where you can donate your old TVs include:
- The Salvation Army
- St Vincent De Paul
- Habitat For Humanity
- American Red Cross
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Boys & Girls Clubs Of America
- Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
- City Of Hope
- Coalition To Salute America’s Heroes
- Furniture Bank
- Habitat for Humanity
4. Recycle It Yourself
If you are unable or unwilling to part with your electronics, there are options available that allow you to recycle them yourself. Many retailers will take old products like TVs and computer monitors. Just check their websites or give them a call. These companies often pay shipping and recycling fees.
They might also have drop-off locations where you can leave your items without having to wait for pick-up day. Don’t just throw your old TV in a dumpster or leave it outside for trash collectors. It could end up in a landfill or be incinerated (which is bad news for both humans and the environment). You can also contact local government offices to see if they have any recycling programs in place.
Some counties offer free drop-off days for certain items; others have community centers where residents can bring used electronics for recycling. Whatever option you choose, it’s best to make sure that your devices are completely turned off before dropping them off at a collection site—and be sure not to leave any personal information on them either. In the end, you may even realize that giving away or selling your TV is a better option than dumping it somewhere!
5. Try Taking it Back To The TV Manufacturer
Many major companies that make TVs accept old units for recycling, from tiny flat screens to giant rear-projection ones. It’s worth a call just to find out. The company may charge you a fee (like $25), or they may require you to provide proof that it’s your TV and not someone else’s, like a receipt.
There are also websites and blogs with information on how to recycle your electronics properly, including TVs. For example, Earth911 maintains a comprehensive database (along with an app) where you can recycle all kinds of stuff for free (or for a small fee). There are countless other sites out there as well if you don’t like that one, so do some Googling!
6. Take It To Best Buy Or Perhaps A Different Store That Recycles e-Waste
For a fee, some electronics stores will take your old devices, even if they don’t sell them. These outlets must adhere to strict government guidelines for e-waste disposal, so you can rest assured that your old TV won’t end up in a landfill.
If you choose to dispose of electronics through an intermediary like Best Buy, be sure that all data has been properly erased. This is especially important if you’re getting rid of computers; otherwise, people could easily go digging through your trash and pull private information out of it.
FAQs for Old TV Disposal
Are Old Televisions Worth Anything?
Although newer TVs are lighter and more energy-efficient, if your old television is still in good condition and has high picture quality, it could be worth some money. All you need to do is check with a nearby pawn shop or other electronics dealers (such as eBay or Craigslist) for an idea of what a used TV might fetch.
If your local pawn shop doesn’t buy used items, they may have a list of salvage buyers, typically individuals who repair and resell electronics—that you can contact directly. When selling via an online marketplace, make sure that you clearly disclose any damage and don’t forget shipping costs.
What Can You Do With A Broken TV?
Chances are, you know someone who’s bought a big-screen television in recent years. (If you don’t, then you probably have one yourself.) But how do people dispose of their old TVs? Most folks think that taking an old set to a recycler is environmentally responsible. After all, why send good electronics to a landfill when they can be repurposed or resold?
As it turns out, though, there are some reasons not to take your old set to recycling centers. Recycling facilities simply aren’t equipped with processes that enable them to safely recycle electronic devices—even ones as small as flat-screen televisions. If you have an old set and want it gone without hurting the environment, consider the alternatives above first.
There are many reasons why you may want to dispose of your old television set. You could want a newer model with more advanced features, or maybe your current set has broken beyond repair. Whatever your reason for getting rid of it, there are better ways to handle your old TV than simply trashing it.
There are plenty of companies that will happily take it off your hands and then responsibly recycle as much material as possible. If you don’t have room in your new apartment for an extra television, try asking family members or friends if they would like it instead.
By recycling responsibly, we can save natural resources that might otherwise be depleted by new electronics production and help reduce our waste-disposal burden on landfills and incinerators.