By Wendy Gabriel on February 04, 2013

More than a dozen states (and counting) have enacted laws banning TVs from landfills.

Research shows that electronic waste, or e-waste, is growing at three times the rate of other municipal waste, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is important that we prolong the life of our electronic devices as long as possible and find a reputable recycler when our electronics reach the end of their useful life.

TV landfill recycling

Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. The EPA says that donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.

The typical television contains toxic levels of lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous chemicals. According to a report by the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation, CRT monitors and TVs contain between 4 and 8 pounds of lead. As they break down in landfills, they can leach toxic chemicals into our groundwater. As a result, in some states it is against the law to throw a TV or other CRT-containing electronic device into a landfill.

Below is a list of states where you cannot throw e-waste into the trash, compiled from The Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC). Note: Sometimes disposal bans are enacted on a local (county or municipal) level, even if the state has no such ban. Those bans are not reflected in this list, with the exception of New York City.

  • Arkansas

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? No
    • What items are banned? Computer and electronic equipment (not clearly defined).

  • California

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? No
    • What items are banned? CRTs have been banned since 2001, as hazardous waste. As of February 2006, universal waste is also banned from the landfills. This includes “electronic devices” such as televisions and computer monitors, computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios and microwave ovens.

  • Connecticut

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? Items covered by e-waste law: TVs, monitors, personal computers and laptops.

  • Illinois

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? Covered products are computers, monitors, laptops, TVs and printers.

  • Indiana

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? “Covered electronic devices” from the e-waste law, which includes computers, peripherals (keyboards and printers), fax machines, DVD players, video cassette recorders and video display devices.

  • Maine

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? No
    • What Items are banned? Items containing a CRT. There is not a size restriction.

  • Massachusetts

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? CRTs, defined as any intact, broken or processed glass tube used to provide the visual display in televisions, computer monitors and certain scientific instruments, such as oscilloscopes.

  • Minnesota

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? No
    • What items are banned? Electronic items containing CRTs.

  • New Hampshire

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? Video display devices, defined as devices that include a CRT, liquid crystal display, gas plasma, digital light processing or other image-projection technology. Size must be greater than 4 inches when measured diagonally.

  • New Jersey

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on Incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? TVs, monitors, computers and laptops.

  • New York City

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? Products covered by the new e-waste law, which includes computers, laptops, monitors, TVs, printers, keyboards and mice.

  • North Carolina

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? Computer equipment, including computers, monitors, laptops, keyboards, mice and TVs.

  • Oregon

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? No
    • What items are banned? Desktop computers, laptops, TVs and monitors with screens measuring more than 4 inches diagonally.

  • Pennsylvania

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? Covered devices include TVs, monitors, computers, laptops and peripherals (keyboards and printers).

  • Rhode Island

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? No
    • What items are banned? Desktop computers (including central processing unit), computer monitors (including CRT monitors and flat-panel monitors), portable computers (laptops), combination units (CPUs with monitors), CRT-based televisions and non-CRT-based televisions and televisions (including plasma and LCD) or any similar video display device containing a circuit board with a screen greater than 4 inches diagonally.

  • Wisconsin

    • Ban on landfilling? Yes
    • Ban on incineration? Yes
    • What items are banned? TVs, monitors, laptops, desktops, printers, keyboards, fax machines, DVD players and VCRs.

For more information on statewide e-waste bans, visit electronicstakeback.com.

About the author

Wendy Gabriel is a freelance eco-writer based in Fargo, ND. She is the founder of MyGreenSide.org and tweets at @MyGreenSide. Wendy is a wife to an amazing man[...]
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