In case you haven’t heard, the TV world is changing on February 17, 2009. Television stations will begin broadcasting only in digital format, and analog TV users will have some adjustments to make.
With 10 months until the switch, this is no time to panic. Instead, find out if you will be affected. Equally important, how will the environment be affected by this digital switch?
Identifying the Issue
Digital TV (DTV) is a newer form of technology for receiving TV broadcasts. It offers better picture and sound, as well as interactive features like online program guides.
Broadcasters are already making the transition, sending TV in both analog and digital forms. TV manufacturers have also prepared for this, meaning you may already have a digital TV and not even know it.
There are certain code words to look for in your operating manual when figuring out if your TV is digital, such as:
- Digital Tuner
- Digital Receiver
If your TV is labeled “Digital Ready,” this doesn’t mean you are safe. It means you will need to buy a digital-to-analog converter box, which costs $50-$75. There’s a $40 coupon to help offset this cost from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Be aware: there may not be enough money to provide enough coupons for everyone. If you plan to buy a converter, get yours ASAP.
Buying a converter might be the most eco-friendly option because it creates less waste, but this doesn’t mean TV recyclers aren’t taking precautions.
“We’re definitely preparing for the potential capacity more than anything,” says Carey Levine of ASL Recycling, a California recycler of electronic waste. “We expect electronic manufacturers to take advantage and offer great deals on digital TVs, so we’re ready to recycle extra TVs in the coming months.”
The keyword here is “recycle.” While it’s currently legal to throw out your electronics in all but five states, TV sets contain lead inside the glass tube. In a landfill, this lead can contaminate both our soil and our water supply.
Luckily, it’s becoming easier every day to recycle not only televisions, but other electronics like cell phones and computers. Use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find:
- Places to donate your still-working televisions
- Local community events to recycle electronics
- Retail locations that accept electronics for recycling
- Qualified recyclers that specialize in electronics
- Manufacturer take back programs
The picture will be ultra-clear once you go digital. Almost as clear as your conscience for adjusting to the digital switch in an eco-friendly way.