Wednesday, January 16, 2008


A tsunami of garbage TV sets is headed for Hawaii

by Larry Geller

In February 17, 2009, just over a year from now, broadcasters will switch over to digital broadcasting. A veritable tsunami of old, heavy, analog TVs, most with picture tubes and filled with pollutants such as mercury and cadmium, will hit the garbage heaps in Hawaii as it will elsewhere in the country.

Are we ready? At least, we should ask the question, particularly at the start of the legislative session. Do we need to create a way to handle the coming tsunami of dangerous junk?

While it's possible to buy a converter box, most viewers are expected to toss their old sets and succumb to the escalating wave of advertising for new large-screen and high-definition sets.

Old TV sets are simply incompatible with the new broadcast standards. Those using antennas will have a choice, and it seems that most will choose to dump their TVs, often more than one per family, and upgrade. At least, that's been the pattern so far.

How shall we handle the coming tsunami of garbage? Let's figure out something before we end up stepping over them everywhere we go.

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It was nice to see you yesterday. Glad to be able to thank you for your work. Sorry about your stolen car, by the way. That was horrible and terribly invasive thing to have happen.

Thank you for this entry on analog TV sets.

Not long ago I investigated the North Pacific Gyre (, after having learned of it from Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii ( last fall.

Speaking as a local guy who just returned "home" in the last year after 27 years "abroad," I am almost constantly astounded by the amount of garbage that's produced here in the islands and the fact that the sheer volume is so inadequately addressed at the policy level. With this discussion about the massive numbers of analog television sets that will be thrown away next year, I think you have hit on a very sensitive subject.

Here's a picture you brought to mind: I was on Kauai last week to lead a training on how to apply for grants from Hawaii People's Fund and spent some time playing in the ocean at Kealia Beach. It was sickening to see analog TV picture tubes in partially buried in the sand. I'm certain that if all I could see was the discarded picture tube, then polymers from the photodegraded plastic casing of this and other TV sets are soon to become part of the debris in the 3.34 million pieces of flotsam per square kilometer that makes up the North Pacific Gyre, aka the Pacific Trash Vortex.

When broken down to individual molecules, the plastic polymers enter the ocean food chain and contribute to the debacle of a planet under siege.

I see that the University of Hawaii at Hilo offered a Distinguished Lecture Series on Marine Debris in the Pacific (page 7, Ka Lono Hanakahi, available at last fall. Wish I could have heard some of the things that were presented.

Keep up the great work bringing Disappeared News to light, Larry.

Richard Rodrigues

"a Distinguished Lecture Series on Marine Debris"

Yikes. What has the world come to?

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