15 July 2008

Old Television, New Digital, and the Landfill

Congress has required that broadcasters switch to digital television beginning in February, 2009. More here from The New York Times.

Your television might already be capable of recieving a digital signal, especially if you bought it after May, 2007. If not, you can buy a converter box, and Congress says you're entitled to two vouchers worth $40 each to help pay for the purchase. The Federal Communcations Commission will tell you more about the advantages of the conversion, here.

But a lot of old televisions are going to end up in the garbage. According to CoopAmerica, "a cathode ray tube television can contain eight pounds of lead, as well as mercury, PVCs, and hundreds of other toxic chemicals." If the televisions are put in landfills, these chemicals are likely to end up in your drinking water. (For more on that, see Elizabeth Royte's Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It.)

CoopAmerica wants the FCC to mandate that the manufacturers that sell you your new television capable of recieving the digital signal will take your old television and recycle it responsibly. For more information, and to sign on to a letter to the FCC, click here.