New, light-weight, high definition, flat screen televisions have been a hot-selling item for many months as Americans prepare for the change to digital broadcasting.
Consumers now face the problem of what to do with their old televisions.
Millions of these bulky, heavy, oversized devices have been replaced by consumers and many are still in good working condition.
Some used electronic stores might take them on consignment to resell or even pay a small price for them.
Local charitable thrift stores and national programs such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill may also accept them.
Even equipment that is no longer working may be useful to others for parts or technical training. Advertising these items in a local newspaper for sale at a low price or for free, may connect consumers with someone looking for these devices or parts.
Contacting local charities is a good place to start, especially before allowing the televisions to become a part of the solid waste stream. This type of trash is just one of several consumer electronic devices commonly referred to as e-waste.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) say that old television sets contain parts that are harmful to the environment and should be disposed of properly.
"Many different components make up a television set. Some of these parts have the potential to harm the environment if improperly disposed of," the MDNR says. "Up to four pounds of lead can be found within some televisions. Other materials that can be found include chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc and brominated flame retardants."
The MDNR says that taking consumer electronics to a recycler is the best way to dispose of e-waste.
"A legitimate electronics recycler can remove potentially hazardous materials from inside a television. Doing so will not only help prevent those materials from accidently being exposed to the environment but also means the materials can be reused to make new products," the MDNR states.
E-waste recycling is a fairly new business across Missouri and Arkansas and not all recyclers accept all types of electronic waste.
Products considered as consumer electronics which may be recycled include televisions and monitors, computers, computer peripherals, audio and stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, fax and copying machines, cellular phones, wireless devices and video game consoles.
The Internet is a great way to find reuse or recyclable options for out-of-date or non-working electronic devices and locations that accept these recyclables.
This area of southern Missourian and northern Arkansas does not have this type of recycling facility.
In Missouri, the closest facility on the MDNR registered computer and electronic recycling list is Computer Recycling Center in Springfield. Their Web site is found at www.computerrecyclingcenter.org. Midwest Wholesalers in Branson is also listed as a facility that accepts electronic equipment from small businesses and school districts. Their Web site is at www.mwincrecycling.com.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's (ADEQ) Web site, www.adeq.state.ar.us, lists many sites consumers can go to for more information on electronic reuse and recycling.
According to the ADEQ Web site, Arkansas residents can currently dispose of e-waste with other household items unless restricted by local landfills.
Rod Smith, manager of IESI, says the landfill near Cherokee Village does accept old televisions, computer equipment and other electronic devices.
"This will probably change in the next few years because of government restrictions," Smith said. "We normally have a $25 minimum fee at the landfill but because of the amount of old televisions that will not be working after Feb. 17, we will allow our regular (trash route) customers to dispose of one television per household through their regular service."
Smith said that Tri-County Recycling is researching the possibility of adding this type of recycling service in the near future. This will be a service greatly needed in the area, especially in 2010 when new restrictions will take affect.
"Realizing the potential effects on Arkansas' environment and people, the state Legislature gave ADEQ the option of banning electronic waste from Arkansas' municipal solid waste landfills beginning in January, 2010," the ADEQ Web site states.
A popular concept to encourage recycling and to clean-up e-waste in communities are collection events sponsored by the city, county or solid waste management district. Clubs and businesses have also undertaken these events as a public service to their communities. More information about these type of events can be obtained in Missouri by calling the Solid Waste Program at 800-361-4827 and the ADEQ office in Arkansas at 501-682-0814.