Recycling old TVs in Pa. tougher than you think

If you have an old television in your basement that you’re ready to get rid of, you may need to hold onto it for a little while longer.


Eight months after Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Act prohibited throwing away electronics including TVs and computers, some recycling and donation centers have received so many older-model TVs that they can no longer accept any more.

Goodwill Keystone Area, which covers most of Southeastern Pennsylvania, has already accepted “a high volume of TVs that we are unable to sell or that we can’t recycle,” according to marketing coordinator Emily Walker. For now, the agency will not accept any more and cannot predict when that might change.

The problem with recycling TVs is part of the same problem that makes it dangerous to put them in landfills — the leaded glass that protects the viewer from radiation.

“Taking back a television has to do with the problem of not being able to recycle the cathode ray tube within the television,” said Lisa Kasianowitz, an information specialist at Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. “Some places are not accepting the large-tube televisions for various reasons, if they don’t have a cost-effective way to recycle the television. That’s their own decision. There are still other options for consumers to recycle televisions.”

Philadelphia, where the city Streets Department accepted about 500,000 pounds of TVs and computers during the last fiscal year, offers several alternatives. In addition to sponsoring drop-offs for household hazardous waste throughout the year, the Streets Department has convenience centers open Monday through Saturday. Information is available at the Streets Department’s website.

Kasianowitz also suggested that consumers who have trouble recycling their old TVs look locally. “Charities could possibly use TVs,” she said. “Looking at your local charities and organizations, they could still find some end of life use for those electronics.”

There are also recycling centers and vendors listed on the Department of Environmental Protection’s website, as well as on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s website. But just to be safe, you might want to call ahead and check if they are accepting TVs.

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