Welcome to the TV graveyard – analogue televison mountain created by digital switchover


This is one of Britain’s biggest television graveyards – the final resting place of more than 400,000 sets binned over the last year in the run up to the digital switchover.

The Viridor electrical recycling plant in St Helens, Merseyside, has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of TVs coming in over the past year – many of which still work.

The site is one of two electronic waste plants run by the company – the other is in Perth, Scotland – which are dotted with television mountains waiting to be dismantled.

But cutting edge techniques used by the company ensure that around 96 per cent of the components in each television set can be recovered for recycling.

Each set is stripped of its circuit board, copper cable, plastic, leaded glass, and non-leaded glass to be used in a new generation of electrical goods.

It is one of two major sites run by Viridor where they recycle a large proportion of the nation’s one million tonnes of annual Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE).

The recycling giant cites the digital switchover as a heavy contributor to the increase in scrapped televisions, but also says the upcoming world cup has encouraged many people to scrap their television for a modern plasma screen or high definition set.

Business Development Manager at St Helens Chris Jackson said: ”Recycling electronic and electrical items such as fridges, TVs, computers and small electrical items has been a real success story.

”At Viridor’s St Helens facility we’ve seen a twenty per cent year-on-year increase in the volume of TVs being presented for recycling.

”Whilst due in part of the digital switchover, we expect the figure to accelerate as sports fans rush to upgrade sets ahead of the world cup.”

Under European law about three-quarters of rejected TVs must be recycled.

Much of the input at the St Helens plant comes from Viridor’s contracts with local authorities around Merseyside and Manchester.

But since 2007 new government policy means that electrical goods producers must pay for waste electronic items they have manufactured to be recycled at the end of their use.

Now the biggest contribution to the St Helens plant comes from Producer Compliance Schemes (PCS).

To recycle a television workers first remove the plastic, circuit board, and copper cable from the set to be recycled.

A special process is then used to separate the leaded glass which is used at the back of the screen from the non-leaded which is used in the front panel.

Using a hot wire an electrical current is sent through the glass to heat it up and when tapped with a cold hammer a thermal shock separates the layers.

A cylindrical drum then shakes the glass to remove any coating before all of the components are recycled into new products.

Director of Viridor Mike Hellings said: ”Advances in technology mean that more of the waste that we discard than ever is recyclable.

”Through sites such as St Helens it is possible to recycle as much as 95 per cent of materials that are brought in.

”WEEE recycling is an area where much can be done to decrease the amount of waste that we discard, and we have invested in new technologies at our recycling plants in St Helens and Perth to dramatically increase the amount of WEEE that we can process.”


  1. i worked there gave up after 6hrs of sweeping the yard of broken glass, tv ‘s and fridges get dropped and broken so only 50% get the gas removed, it’s a money making government con program.


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