Sony Earns Top Grade for TV Recycling

Sony Earns Top Grade for TV Recycling

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More than half of TV manufacturers have no recycling program in place even though there are only three months left before the digital TV conversion.

Those are the findings from the nonprofit Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC), which for the first time scored the major TV manufacturers on their recycling efforts, including commitment, volume of goods taken and public policy stance. The group assigned Sony the top grade -- a B- -- followed by Samsung, LG and Wal-Mart, each of whom earned "C" marks.

"While we are encouraged that some TV manufacturers now have national programs to take back their old products, none of these programs have enough locations to allow for easy and convenient TV recycling for most consumers," Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of the ETBC, said in a statement. "Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done. We want to see a lot more collection sites and a lot more transparency about what the recyclers are doing with these products, so that we can be sure they are being handled responsibly."

Sony earned the highest grade in part because it was the first manufacturer to start a nationwide program in September of 2007, although the ETBC noted there aren't enough collection sites for the program to be considered convenient. LG, Samsung and Wal-Mart also have national programs.

Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba and Best Buy each scored a "D." Funai, Hitachi, JVC, Mistubishi, Philips, Thomson, Vizio, Target and Sanyo failed because none of the companies offer a voluntary takeback program.

The low grades reflect the fact that the programs in place are very new and lack developed networks of collection sites. ETBC said it was disappointed in the lack of transparency of the handling of these unwanted products and toxic materials within them, such as cadmium, cathode ray tubes and mercury. Many manufacturers also lack clearly stated goals on collection targets.

On Feb. 17, the U.S. will switch from analog to digital broadcast television in order to vacate parts of the broadcast spectrum for public safety announcements.