Are you going to treat yourself to a new television this year? A lot of us do around Christmas time or in the January sales, but do you ever wonder what becomes of all the televisions that are discarded every year? Figures show that we are replacing our television sets more frequently than we used to – the days when ‘it’s still working, we’ll make do with it a bit longer’ was the general rule are over, nowadays we are being enticed to swap by all the tempting new features that get included with every upgrade. In the UK, it is reported that we dispose of about 2 million TVs every year, which is a lot of glass, plastics and electronics to get rid of.
Assuming a doomed TV set gets safely to the local tip rather than being dumped in the countryside, until recently it would have joined a growing mountain of other discarded electronics goods. Electronics is the fastest growing category of waste, and in the past, councils have struggled to deal with the volume of items safely and economically. Great container-loads of redundant electronic devices have typically been shipped off abroad, which costs money and simply shifts the problem elsewhere. Thankfully things are beginning to change here in the UK.
There’s gold in your old TV
Electronic devices are made up of a wide range of materials, all of which can be re-used in some way if they can be disassembled and separated thoroughly enough. There’s even gold in there – printed circuit boards and electronic connectors contain small but significant amounts of gold, and other scarce materials that really are well worth salvaging. A recycling plant in Bridgnorth, Shropshire is now taking the opportunity to treat old televisions as a source of valuable material, and they have turned to robotics to make it economically viable.
300,000 Televisions per year
Veolia, who run the plant, are a French-owned firm – they tend to handle waste for manufacturing companies as well as private concerns. Veolia plan to handle roughly 300,000 discarded televisions from the UK per year. Their two new robots will help to break down the televisions into their separate component parts efficiently and cleanly, and the various materials can then be handled safely, and either sold on or re-used. 90% of the material recovered in this way can be recycled, and even the 10% that’s left can be made into fuel, this avoiding putting it into landfill – the ultimate goal of all environmentally responsible councils.
Don’t risk a fly-tipper
Recent legislation means that manufacturers must fund the recycling of the products they make, and this means Veolia will be paid about £1 per set that they handle. This is less than the cost of disassembly, but Veolia will be able to make their profit out of the material they sell on – a real incentive to do the job properly. Don’t forget, if you have any old electronics goods that you need to get rid of, don’t risk it being fly-tipped by a cowboy clearance company, get a trusted Gumamah team to come and collect your goods; that way you can be sure they will end up in the right place to be recycled.