Why does the County and recyclers charge $25 or more to dispose of an old computer monitor or TV? The short answer is “lead.” CRTs have 2 to 5 pounds of lead on the glass that we need to keep out of our land and water.
The sale of CRTs peaked around the year 2000 at more than 65 million units. Then, flat screen technology took over and CRT sales fell to practically zero by 2010.
CRTs can last up to 30 years so all those TVs and computer monitors sold before 1990 are at the end of life. Also, people are getting rid of functioning but obsolete CRTs in favor of the better flat-screen technology.
Ironically, the demise of CRT sales hurts CRT recycling. The main end source for old CRT lead was use in new CRTs. The U.S. has only one certified CRT recycler located in Missouri. Canada has two; Mexico has one. Some recylcers have resorted to storing the CRTs for lack of recycling capacity. The EPA estimates that we have about 330,000 tons of CRT stockpiled waiting to be recycled.
The cost of recycling CRTs has two parts:
- the cost to recycle – typically 14 cents per pound.
- the cost of transporting CRTs to the recycler — typically another 10 cents per pound
A typical computer monitor weighs 40 pounds—a cost of $9.60
A typical 32-inch TV monitor weights 110 pounds—a cost of $26.40
A County resident has a couple of options to avoid paying recycling fees for CRT disposal.
- Junk King Fairfax does not charge fees for CRT recycling when the CRT is part of a normal household or business junk-removal job. We treat the CRT in our regular volume.
- Best Buy takes your old CRT– not larger than 32”.
- Other retailers: Virginia law requires any manufacturer that sells (or offers for sale) more than 500 units of computer equipment in the state to provide an opportunity for customers to return or recycle their equipment at no charge.
- Fairfax County has 10 Electric Sunday events each year where you can drop off CRTs and other E-waste at the Lorton or Ox Road facilities. Go to https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/recycling/electric-sunday.htm
The EPA estimates that CRT disposal will be a diminishing problem until 2030, when nearly all of the CRTs will be out of the system.