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TV recycling programs face higher costs

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Kent County's Department of Public Works used to accept old-style cathode ray televisions and recycle them at no cost to residents.

That's changed.

Kristen Wieland manages recycling for the county.  She says television manufacturers used to financially support Michigan's television recycling programs, but they've stopped doing it.

So, the county is asking residents to cover half the cost of recycling an old t.v. and hoping for the best.

"When you ask someone to pay for recycling it doesn't always go over well," she says.

It costs the county $20 to $40 to recycle the lead from a television. Residents will only be asked to pay half that, and the county will pick up the other half.

Wieland says there's five to ten pounds of lead in each television, so she's hoping residents don't just dump the TVs in landfills, which is still legal in Michigan.

"If you put two or three TVs next to each other, it equals about same amount of lead as a car battery, she notes. "And car batteries are banned from landfills in Michigan."

Wieland hopes the state legislature passes a law making it illegal to dispose of cathode ray televisions in landfills – and requiring television manufacturers to go back to supporting recycling programs in the state.

Meanwhile, Best Buy says it has no plans at this time to discontinue its free electronics recycling program.

The company will accept many televisions, VCRs and other electronic devices, and recycles those which cannot be refurbished.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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