By the time you read this, the conversion from analog to digital TV on Friday, June 12, may have already taken place.
Many New Mexicans decided to buy hi-definition TVs to replace older models that require converter boxes to work in the new digital landscape. But even though your previous set might seem out of date, bulky and otherwise lame, folks in the recycling biz urge you not to throw it away.
"Almost 100 percent of what these old TVs are made of can be recycled," says Waste Management New Mexico spokesperson Marlene Feuer. "The landfill is not the right place for them."
“Almost 100 percent of what these old TVs are made of can be recycled.”
Marlene Feuer, Waste Management New Mexico spokesperson
Feuer says televisions have dangerous materials in them, such as lead, which can be carcinogenic. She says it's unlikely lead from a TV screen dumped in Albuquerque's landfill could leak into the groundwater supply below, but there's no need to take that risk.
Joel Belding, president of Enchantment Recycling, says materials in TV screens can be used to make a number of items. Lead can be extracted from the glass, and then the glass itself is burned and used for fuel. Metals in the TV can become part of cars or anything needing steel. The plastic innards are ground and turned into plastic lumber for park benches or decks on houses.
Jill Holbert, deputy director of the city's Solid Waste Management Department, says she's not sure whether more TVs have been tossed in the months leading up to the digital transition. There might be an increase in people getting rid of their old TVs, Holbert says, but if that's so, her department hasn't noticed the change. "We dispose of over 600,000 tons of garbage each year at our landfill, so you're kind of talking about a needle-in-a-haystack situation," Holbert says. "I can't say whether they're there or not, because we just don't see them."