(September 16, 2010)  Consumers buy new HDTVs for one of two reasons: to upgrade their present HDTV or replace an old or broken television. Old TVs contain toxic metals and materials including lead and mercury.

Most folks don’t want their old sets (called e-waste) to end up in a local landfill where the toxic materials can pollute their communities. The old TVs need to be disassembled, with toxic and non-toxic components separated and properly recycled.

An HD Guru® investigation of the country’s largest  “discount” retailers, warehouse clubs and etailers revealed they don’t provide any pick-up of old sets or get involved in recycling programs in order to save time, money and effort. This irresponsible corporate behavior no doubt adds to the bottom line and while it might save consumers a few pennies in what they pay for their new TVs in the short run, in the long run we all pay for the damage done and for the inevitable clean-up. Here’s the breakdown:


America’s largest retailer boasts everyday low prices on name brand TVs including Samsung, Sony and Panasonic.  HD Guru asked their corporate representative by email what their customers should do with e-waste when purchasing a new HDTV at one of their stores. We were directed to a Samsung website. The website explains about Samsung’s regional recycling offices. Unfortunately they only accept Samsung branded products. The closest one to our Long Island location (part of the NY metro area) is 32.6 miles from us, requiring two toll bridge crossings. How does Wal-mart expect most folks to have access to a vehicle that can hold a 150 lb. CRT TV or projector and only own a Samsung TV?  Buying a TV at Wal-Mart may or may not be a few dollars cheaper than at other retailers that provide free delivery along with pickup and recycling of your old TV, because they are offloading the expense to the consumer!

Sam’s Club

A subsidiary of Wal-Mart, it is a warehouse club similar to Costco. Like Wal-Mart there is no store recycling program.


No recycling program or old TV pick-up when they deliver a new large screen. Like Wal-mart they directed us to a website that tells consumers what their recycling options are through independent third parties. All require customer delivery of their unwanted or broken TVs to centers.


No recycling program. You are on your own. Costco, like Amazon and Wal-Mart are publicly traded companies selling very large quantities of HDTVs.

J&R Music World

J&R is a single location brick and mortar New York retailer and national e-tailer of consumer electronics and HDTVs. According to the representative we spoke to, they have no e-waste recycling program. Like Wal-Mart and Costco, the consumer is on his own.


Sears will take your old TV for recycling with a few conditions. First, you must have the HDTV delivered by Sears. If purchased in-store the charge is $69 for “basic” to the door delivery or $139 for delivery that includes unpacking and connecting the TV to the wall outlet and your cable or satellite tuner. You can pay an additional $10 for the Sears driver to remove your old TV for recycling.

According to the Sears website, select brands of large screen HDTVs offer free basic delivery if purchased on-line instead of inside a Sears store, however, you must still pay the $10 remove and recycle fee.

Best Buy

Best Buy offers in-store recycling of e-waste including TVs up to 32″. Best Buy charges $10 fee for each in-store TV (or monitor) dropped off at a Best Buy location, however they will give the customer a $10 Best Buy gift card in exchange.

Any size old TVs are accepted for free when Best Buy (BB) delivers a new HDTV. BB offer free delivery of any HDTV priced at $999 or above. We commend Best Buy for their excellent, industry leading recycling policies.

Your Local Government

Currently there is a mish mash of recycling requirements nationwide that vary among cities and towns. We suggest you contact your local sanitation department to learn how to participate with a local TV recycling programs. Take into consideration the proper disposal and recycling of your broken or unwanted old TV before making your final purchase decision.

Edited By Michael Fremer

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