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Don’t put old TVs out with the trash, officials say
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Officials urge residents to properly recycle TVs and other electronics.
PINELLAS COUNTY - Pinellas County Utilities officials have a special concern about holiday trash this season.

“A lot of people are getting electronics - new TVs, new DVDs players, Blu-ray players,” said Deb Bush, Operations manager.

She said while giving of electronics is good for retailers and the economy, the problem is what people do with their old stuff.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection projects that a high number of televisions could be sold this year due to the upcoming deadline, Feb. 17, 2009, for television stations to switch from an analog signal to a digital signal. People with older televisions that do not have a digital tuner must either purchase a new television or a converter box.

Joe Fernandez, Solid Waste program manager, said the switch was already causing an impact. For the fiscal year 2007-08, 10,734 TVs were received at the electronics recycling center and mobile collection events. Last year, 7,347 TVs were collected.

“Since last Thanksgiving a record number of TVs have been coming in and the number is increasing,” he said.

While it’s good that so many TVs are coming in for recycling, officials are worried about the ones going out with the trash.

“TVs have a lot of lead in them,” Bush said. “There is lead in the screen, the tube, in the neck of the tube there’s a lot of lead. Many electronics contain heavy metals which are hard on the environment and they don’t break down - ever.”

Bush said it’s important that county residents properly dispose of electronics by taking them to the recycling center or a mobile collection event.

The Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center, aka HEC3, is located at 2990 110th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. Call 727-464-7500. The center is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mobile collections also can be scheduled by mobile home parks, condominiums and homeowners associations by calling Fernandez at 727-464-7500.

Recycling of old TVs and electronics is not only good for the environment, it’s good for the economy, officials said.

“Recycling televisions and other electronics allows for the recovery of electronic components that contain lead and other toxic materials,” said Mary Jean Yon, DEP’s director of Waste Management. “Recycling is good for the environment and the reuse of resources makes good economic sense.”

Bush said all the electronics received at the Pinellas County recycling center go to contractors that break down and sort the components - glass, plastic, ferrous and nonferrous metals. All the parts can be reused in the manufacturing of new products.

“It’s more cost effective to recycle,” Fernandez said.

Other ways to recycle old TVs include keeping them for games, videos or DVDs or donating working televisions to charities. A third solution is to offer televisions through a local Freecycle group at www.f­reecy­cle.o­rg.

Camille Evans, public relations specialist with Utilities Conservation Department, said Freecycle is a way to give away or recycle for free unwanted items.

“You sign up for one of the local groups in Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, North Pinellas, Largo or St. Petersburg,” she said. “You list what you want to get rid of, someone else asks for it, and then you arrange for drop-off or pick-up.”

Some local publications, including Tampa Bay Newspapers, offer free classified ads to people wanting to give stuff away. Call 397-5563 for more information.

Bottom line, Bush said, is for people to “think about it before they throw it away and reuse what they can.”
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