You would have had to be on another planet to have not yet heard about the switch from analog to digital TV that will occur on June 12, 2009. Although one result of this change will be better picture quality, an unintended consequence has recyclers twitching: many people believe they will have to dispose of perfectly lovely and well-functioning televisions because analog TVs cannot decode a digital signal. Before you toss that TV in the trash and rush out to buy a new one, please read this article in its entirety.

First, some statistics. According to the National Geographic Green Guide, a single television contains plastics - and up to four pounds of lead. Both are harmful to the environment and human health if landfilled or incinerated. At present, the EPA reports that only 18 percent of televisions are recycled. So, since few are actually recycled and because manufacture of new TVs consumes a lot of resources, let's consider the options: Keep your working television for as long as possible.

As we mentioned, many people mistakenly believe that their working televisions will no longer be usable after the change-over. Not true! Only those that do not have a digital tuner (those manufactured before 1998) and that are not attached to cable, satellite or other pay service are affected by the digital change-over.

All those perfectly good TVs need to work after June 12th is a $20 converter box. Information about converter boxes can be found at  Some of the converter boxes are Energy Star rated, meaning that they use less energy than a regular converter box. Or, consider keeping your working analog television and subscribing to a cable or satellite service - that takes care of the problem.

If you do decide to replace your working television, please be one of the 18% of folks who recycle it. You can donate it so it can be used by someone else. Sage Resale Shop in Summit accepts televisions that are less than 5 years old, and the Market Street Mission in Morristown,, will accept televisions that are less than 10 years old. Also, Summit residents can bring any working televisions to the Summit Free Market, which will be held at the transfer station from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 25, May 2 and May 9. If you miss those dates, Summit residents can also bring their unwanted TVs to the covered building at the top of the transfer station, where they will be properly recycled.

Finally, if you cannot find a new home for your unwanted television set, you can find other ways to safely dispose of your old television. Some retailers and manufacturers of televisions have begun taking back televisions for recycling. Other recycling opportunities can be found on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's website:

This article is brought to you by Summit's Recycling Advisory Committee, which strives to inform and educate residents on best recycling and reuse practices. For more information, please contact RAC member Marjorie Fox at