No market for old TVs

Otago people are increasingly aware they will either have to upgrade or replace their analogue televisions within the next 18 months - just ask the charity shops.

At least one outlet has stopped taking analogue televisions after an influx of older sets being donated but little demand for them from customers, and others may follow.

New Zealand is switching to digital television reception progressively between September next year and December 2013. It will be the turn of the South Island, excluding the West Coast, on April 28, 2013. After that date viewers will have to own a digital television or upgrade each of their existing sets by connecting to Freeview, Sky or Telstra Clear.

Not many charity shops in the greater Dunedin area accept larger items such as television sets or furniture.

Of those that do, the Salvation Army Family Store in Mosgiel said it had stopped taking donated television sets some months ago.

"We had too many coming in and there wasn't the demand," acting manager, Beverley Neilson said.

A sign explaining the new policy did not stop people leaving televisions at the door after hours, she said.

The best sets were put out for sale and the rest taken to the Green Island landfill at the charity's expense.

The Salvation Army's Princes St store was still accepting televisions, assistant manager, Alan Dore, said. But he expected that to change when the shop moved to new premises in about a month.

"The customers don't want them. We have 10 in stock at the moment, when we usually have about five."

Dunedin City Council waste strategy officer, Catherine Irvine, said the council was expecting a glut of old sets at the landfill as the digital switch date approached. She hoped people would choose to recycle sets rather than dump them.

From today, people dropping televisions off at the landfill for recycling will be charged a fee of $20 per set, she said.

The fee enabled sets to be disassembled in Christchurch and "95%" of their components such as glass, plastic and metal recycled.

Recycling was optional and there was no additional charge if people put sets in the landfill pit, Ms Irvine said.

"We are not going to refuse people wanting to dump them ... as we don't want them left on roadsides. But we think $20 is a really good investment in the environment."

Councils and environmental groups were lobbying the Government to introduce an "advance disposal fee" - a charge when televisions and other products were purchased which covered the cost of recycling items when they reached the end of their life.

The Government's $13 million advertising campaign alerting people to the move to digital appears to be bringing results.

A survey of 2000 people throughout the country in June showed 87% of Otago respondents were aware of the switch to digital, Going Digital national manager, Greg Harford, said. That was up from 58% a year earlier.

Almost eight out of 10 Otago households were already watching digital television, in line with the national average, the survey showed.



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