How to Safely Dispose of Old CRT Televisions

How to Safely Dispose of Old CRT Televisions

How to Safely Dispose of Old CRT Televisions

Why Proper Disposal is Important

Old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions contain hazardous materials like lead and mercury that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly. Improperly disposed CRT TVs are a major source of lead, cadmium, and other toxic heavy metals in landfills. When these toxic materials leach into the surrounding soil and groundwater, they can cause health problems for humans, animals, and plants. That’s why it’s crucial to recycle or dispose of CRT TVs in a safe, eco-friendly manner.

Dangers of Improper Disposal

Simply tossing an old CRT TV in the trash or abandoning it on the curb can have serious consequences. Here are some of the dangers of improper CRT disposal:

  • Lead poisoning – The lead in CRT TV screens can contaminate soil and water if released. Exposure to lead can cause neurological damage, especially in children.

  • Mercury toxicity – CRTs contain mercury, which can damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetuses if released into the environment.

  • Groundwater contamination – Toxins from CRT TVs can leach into groundwater, polluting wells and aquifers used for drinking water.

  • Air pollution – If CRT TVs are incinerated improperly, toxic fumes containing cadmium and lead can be released into the air.

  • Physical hazards – Abandoned CRT TVs with broken glass can pose risks for cuts and other injuries.

Clearly, tossing out an old TV or dumping it can have detrimental impacts on the environment and human health.

Recommended Disposal Methods

To ensure your old CRT TV doesn’t end up polluting the planet, here are some safe, eco-friendly disposal options to consider:


Recycling is the best and most environmentally responsible way to dispose of a CRT television. Many electronic waste recycling centers and hazardous waste facilities accept old TVs for proper recycling. When you drop off your TV:

  • The glass screen is crushed and turned into new glass products.
  • Useful metals like copper and aluminum are extracted and reused.
  • Hazardous materials like lead and mercury are safely stabilized.

This prevents toxic materials from entering landfills or the environment. Contact your local recycling center to ask about TV recycling services.

Curbside Pickup Services

Some municipalities and waste management companies offer curbside pickup services for recycling old TVs and other large electronic devices. Check with your city or town to see if such a program is available in your area. Fees often apply but it’s a convenient disposal method.

Retailer Take-Back Programs

When purchasing a new TV, ask the retailer if they offer take-back programs to collect old TVs. Many major chains like Best Buy offer this service when delivering a new TV. Make sure to ask about any fees for pickup and recycling.

Donation for Reuse

If your old CRT TV is still in working order, consider donating it to a secondhand store or charity organization so someone else can continue using it. Call ahead to make sure they accept used CRT TV donations.

Hazardous Waste Drop-Off

In some areas, hazardous waste disposal facilities will accept old electronics like CRT TVs to ensure they are recycled properly. Contact your local sanitation department to ask about drop-off options and any fees.

Dismantling and Disposal Tips

If the above options are not available in your area, you may need to dismantle and dispose of the TV components yourself. Here are some important guidelines:

  • Remove cables, stands, and accessories – Detach all separate components like cords and remote controls for normal trash disposal.

  • Protect yourself – Wear gloves, long sleeves, closed toe shoes and safety goggles when handling broken CRT glass. Work outdoors and wash hands after.

  • Break the screen – Carefully break the glass screen into a thick plastic bag using a hammer. This prevents large shards that could cut someone later.

  • Dispose of glass at hazardous waste – Glass and phosphor coating contain the most lead. Take broken CRT glass to a hazardous waste facility.

  • Recycle metal housing – The plastic casing can go in regular trash but recycle any remaining metal portions.

  • Check local laws – Some areas prohibit dismantling CRT TVs outside approved recycling centers, so know the law.

By following safe work practices and disposing of each component properly, you can help keep toxins out of the environment. But recycling your old TV is still the best option when available.

Why Proper CRT TV Disposal Matters

As unsightly as that bulky old CRT TV taking up space in your basement may be, resist the urge to toss it out with the trash. Safely recycling CRT televisions takes a little extra time and effort but protects the health of your community and the environment. By keeping hazardous lead, mercury, and other toxins out of landfills and incinerators, proper disposal helps ensure clean soil, air and water for generations to come. It’s a small act that makes a big difference for the planet.