Soil it Green: How to Ditch a CRT

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to retire their Jumbotron screen last fall, they weren't worried about finding a place to dump it. After all, Sony, manufacturer of the 14,000-pound behemoth, had publicly announced that it had partnered with Waste Management and that any Sony product brought to a designated Waste Management collection site would be accepted at no charge.

So the Buccaneers did the ecologically responsible thing and Waste Management got to extract precious metals and other recyclable materials from the giant screen (the company also received a fee from Sony, while Sony got to bask in the green glow of environmental stewardship).

At this point, you're probably saying, "Hey - I don't have some old Jumbotron lying around in my attic! What does this have to do with me?" Well, no matter: You're still eligible for Waste Management.

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Got an '80s-era Trinitron set that's given way to a sleek flat-screen? An old Walkman that's given up the ghost? The Waste Management recycling sites - Sony says there'll be 150 of them by September in all 50 states - will take those old electronics off your hands. And what if you're trying to get rid of a Hitachi TV, a Philips VHS player, or a Dell printer? No problem, though in those cases, you'll pay a nominal charge per pound. A printer might cost you just a buck to recycle; a 27-inch CRT is likely to set you back $20 or $25.

Whoa! Pay $25 just to get rid of a TV? Why not just throw your old electronics in the trash, or put them out on the curb?

For one thing, in some states, like California and Maine, you'd be breaking the law. And even if the risk of a hefty fine doesn't deter you, consider that all electronic equipment contains toxic substances that would leak into landfills and slowly poison our soil and ground water.

According to a recent estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency, only 11% of electronics are recycled - a pitiful number that states, municipalities, and an increasing number of businesses and manufacturers would like to push drastically higher. For instance, many towns now organize special e-trash hauls a couple times a year, where curbside e-waste is collected and disposed of free of charge.

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