Most televisions never see a recycling plant, and end up in dumps along with other refuse, but they contain a massive variety of useful components, as well as toxic elements better left out of the city dump. It takes some work to process the materials, but recycling old TVs is a worthwhile endeavor for the environment and the reduction of waste.
Four portions of televisions are recycle-ready: the glass screen, interior circuits, plastic casing, and scrap metal, and each of them must be separated before recycling. The glass screen usually contains chemicals not found in other, more common glass, so it must be recycled separately. The panes are popped out and ground up, then cleaned. This glass is often used in the manufacture of new TV screens or computer monitors.
Circuit boards are ground as well, and separated into plastics and precious metals. The plastics join the juice containers and packaging for recycling, while the metals might be used in new chips or jewelry.
Many different plastics make up television casing, and while most of it is recyclable, different plastics have very different uses. When processed, this plastic can be used in everything from new casings to fuel.
Much of the remainder of a television is scrap metal. Screws, hinges, wires, clips and other components will be melted down to form new metal objects.
Most televisions also contain some non-recyclable parts. Lead and mercury are the most common, and need to be removed from the electronics and disposed of properly. Left in a dump, these toxic elements may leech into the environment and cause contamination.