Updated on 8/31/2023 with information on selling to gamers.
My mother-in-law had a 200-plus pound 34-inch CRT HDTV sitting in her sunroom for years. It worked, so we put off replacing it because it's too heavy for one person to move, and even if we could carry it, we couldn't just put the TV out on the curb for regular trash pickup. Old CRT TVs contain four to eight pounds of lead, cadmium, mercury, and other toxins that are harmful to the environment, and even newer LCD, plasma, and OLED TVs contain harmful elements. So, getting rid of any old TV requires planning.
Unfortunately, your options are limited even if your TV works and is relatively new. While companies used to have buy-back or trade-in programs, those are no longer running. And trade-in sites that will buy your old electronics, like Gazelle, Decluttr, Amazon, and Best Buy, don't take TVs. You could get lucky listing your TV on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist. There is a small market for gamers who appreciate the low input lag, fast response time, and high contrast of high-quality CRT TVs. But you have to figure out the logistics of delivering it undamaged to your buyer. TVs are fragile, so a local sale will likely be your best bet.
There are places where you can bring TVs for donation or recycling. And, of course, you can pay to have it hauled away. Here are your options.
Prepping your TV for disposal
Just like you should delete your personal data when getting rid of an old computer, you should remove your personal information from your TV. Smart TVs that accessed the internet first hit the shelves in 2007, so your old TV may have account information and other personal data stored.
If you're recycling your TV, look up how to perform a factory reset for your TV model (search for "[TV Model] factory reset"). You'll usually find the option buried in the Settings menu.
If you're donating or trading in your TV, you'll want to sign out of any apps and services you access through the TV. Or, you can perform a factory reset. The only reason not to go the factory reset route is that you will lose the software updates that the TV has received over the years.
Where to donate your old TV
Many places that accept electronics donations like phones and laptops don't accept TV donations, and those that do usually require the TV to be a flat-panel TV. So make sure you ask before you head over to drop off your CRT TV.
Where to recycle your old TV for free
Most TV manufacturers will recycle your TV for free as long as you can transport it to an authorized recycling center. Here are recycling programs for the major TV brands:
- Hisense uses MRM E-Cycling Management (yes, it’s not a secure site, but you’re only looking up an address using your zip code)
- LG recycling program
- Panasonic uses MRM E-Cycling Management (yes, it’s not a secure site, but you’re only looking up an address using your zip code)
- Samsung recycling program
- Sharp uses MRM E-Cycling Management (yes, it’s not a secure site, but you’re only looking up an address using your zip code)
- Sony is working with ERI
- Toshiba uses MRM E-Cycling Management (yes, it’s not a secure site, but you’re only looking up an address using your zip code)
- TCL doesn't have a program, but they do have an interactive map to help you find recycling options in your state.
- Vizio is working with ERI for most states
Most municipalities have designated e-waste recycling days on which you can drop off your old TV for free. Search for: [your town or city] electronics recycling.
Pay to have your TV hauled away
Best Buy accepts small TVs for recycling in all states except Connecticut and Pennsylvania, but you’ll have to pay a $29.99 fee (in all states except California). You can drop off CRT TVs smaller than 32 inches and flat-panel TVs (LCD and plasma) smaller than 50 inches. If your TV doesn’t fit these criteria, you can pay $199.99 to have it hauled away. Best Buy will reduce the haul-away charge to $29.99 if you are having a replacement TV delivered with Geek Squad or Best Buy Home Delivery.
[Image credit: couple carrying TV via BigStockPhoto]