Like most larger electronics, you can’t just put a TV out with the rest of your garbage.
Our habits as consumers have changed pretty significantly over the past few decades, especially when it comes to electronics. Given how quickly the technology improves, it’s not surprising that some people want to constantly upgrade their electronic devices and items like TVs—even if that means getting rid of a perfectly functional older model.
But disposing of an unwanted TV is more complicated than simply putting it out on the curb with your weekly trash. For starters, many garbage removal companies won’t pick up discarded televisions, and some towns, counties, cities, and/or states also have rules against it.
Even if it is possible to throw a TV out with your regular trash collection, you may want to consider whether that convenience is worth the environmental impact of the electronic waste (aka “e-waste”) accumulating in landfills. According to a 2019 report from the United Nations Environmental Program, roughly 50 million metric tons of e-waste is produced around the world each year, and only about 20% of it is formally recycled.
If your TV still works, donating it may be an option. Different thrift stores and charities have different rules, but look up donation guidelines for ones in your area to see if they accept televisions. If so, find out if they offer a pick-up service. This is one of the easiest ways of disposing of a TV, because someone else is (literally) doing the heavy lifting.
Regional requirements and personal motivations aside, here are a few of the easiest ways to properly dispose of a TV.
Sell it or give it away for free
Use social media, your neighborhood’s buy-nothing Facebook group, Facebook marketplace, a mass email to local family and friends, or another method of your choosing to let people know that your working TV is for sale or up for grabs. To make it as easy as possible for you, specify that the buyer/recipient must pick the TV up at your home (or wherever is most convenient for you).
Have the retailer recycle it
Depending on where you purchased your new TV, you may have the option of the store recycling your old TV. Check with the retailer for details, including whether the recycling service involves picking up the old one.
But regardless of where you purchased your new TV (or if you purchased a new one at all), you can take advantage of Best Buy’s electronics recycling program. According to the company, any of the chain’s retail locations in the United States and Puerto Rico will accept old, unused, or unwanted consumer electronics for recycling, no matter where they were purchased—up to three items per household per day.
Though in most cases, the recycling service at Best Buy is free, they do charge a fee to recycle some items. And if you did purchase a new TV from Best Buy and are having it delivered, they’ll haul away your old TV for $29.99.
Have the manufacturer recycle it
In some cases, TV manufacturers offer recycling services. You can find out if the one that made your TV does by looking up their policies directly, or using this chart compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Take it to an e-waste recycling facility
A quick online search of electronics disposal guidelines in your area should point you in the direction of a nearby e-waste facility, where you can drop off TVs and other unwanted electronics for recycling. If there isn’t one located in your city or county, check with neighboring areas that do have these facilities to see if they accept items from non-residents.
If there’s not an e-waste facility in your area, there may be specific days (sometimes, a few each year) when residents are able to drop electronic items (including TVs) off at local fire or police stations or other community establishments for recycling. Again, you can always check to see if neighboring areas have e-waste recycling days, and if so, whether non-residents can take advantage of them as well.