If you own a TV, you can help us make the industry more sustainable. Under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, you can bring your old TV to us, and we will recycle it safely and efficiently. It’s a free service to you, because the manufacturer pays.
Early television sets were tiny things, heavy glass vacuum tubes encased in moulded plastic or wooden boxes that also contained the speakers and controls. Until relatively recently the basic technology – the cathode ray tube – remained the same, but the advent of flat-screen technologies like LCDs, plasma and even projection units has seen the old models ditched en-masse. It used to be that you bought a TV and used it until it died; in the digital age TVs are upgraded far more frequently for larger, better, ‘smarter’ models – and with the shutting off of the analog signal at the end of 2013, a new wave of old TVs are set to be dumped.
A report for the government in 2011 found that while televisions once had a life of one or two decades, that’s now dropped to between 5 and 7 years, and is likely to drop further to just 3.5 years. From a fairly steady average of just under 2 million televisions being thrown away every year since 2000, in 2010 the figure topped 2 million and is predicted to spike to a staggering 6 million in 2015-16. In 2008, there were already 17 million Australian televisions in or on their way to landfill.
Glass, lead, phosphorous, magnesium oxide, aluminium, zinc, nickel and copper – all these go into making televisions and, at the end of their useful life, become waste. And that is a waste – not only of limited landfill space, but of valuable commodities that can be recovered and sold back to manufacturers to be used again. Many of the metals and chemicals contained in televisions are also toxic, and can damage the environment by seeping into water systems, contaminating large areas of land and also affecting the health of people who come into contact with them.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to own a very early television, we’d recommend you don’t bring it for recycling – they are collector’s items! But if you have a 20th-century monstrosity or you’re replacing your old flat-screen with a new plasma or LCD, bring it to EPSA so that it can be turned back into useful raw materials and won’t add to the national – and global – e-waste problem.
Sources: Meta Economics (2011) National Television and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme: targets, trajectories and implications for scheme design; Clean Up Australia (2009) E-waste Fact Sheet, Australian Government (2011) National Waste Policy Fact Sheet: Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011.
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