TVs are the largest contributor to electronic waste, which is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world. For both consumers and businesses, disposing of TVs in ways that decrease environmental impact can prove to be challenging. Due to a lack of safe and cost-effective recycling options, many people simply hope for the best as their TVs are carted away.
To address this issue, Hilton Hotels recently teamed with LG Electronics to create a TV recycling pilot program. For Hilton, the goal of the pilot was to find a method that would be scalable as the company looks to establish a corporate-wide recycling program to responsibly dispose of older hotel TVs and to upgrade to innovative and new energy-efficient television sets that will “heighten the in-room guest experience and reduce energy costs.”
The case study, "LG and Hilton Join Forces for Forward-Thinking Hotel TV Recycling Program," outlines the collaborative effort between Hilton Hotels, LG Electronics and Global Sustainability Solutions (GSS), partners in the pilot program, which recycled old guestroom TVs at Hilton’s 378-room Newark Airport property in New Jersey. GSS managed the e-waste recycling process and installation of the new TVs, and LG offset recycling costs.
The need for an e-waste recycling solution is urgent. Not only is the waste prevalent, but it’s also toxic.
“Hilton is committed to minimizing waste by providing our properties with a sustainable solution for the proper disposal of their existing TV sets rather than sending them to a landfill where they can leak harmful substances in the environment,” says Judy Pines, director of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Hilton. “One single TV contains between two and eight pounds of lead. In those states that have passed legislation mandating e-waste recycling, it is illegal to landfill TVs.”
Working together, Hilton Hotels, LG and GSS recycled nearly 400 older flat-panel hotel TVs from the Hilton Newark Airport. Each recycled TV set was replaced with a new 43-inch Energy Star certified LG flat screen TV. The program was successfully executed in four days and had a minimal impact on guests.
Coordination of the partner teams and clear project goals were key factors of the pilot program. “The pre-planning was very easy and all parties involved were very thorough with the planning and execution,” said Paul Grande, general manager at the Hilton Newark Airport, in the study. “Each group had a set role, which is what made this project so seamless and such a huge success.”
The old TVs were transported to an e-Stewards-certified recycling facility in New York, where they were manually taken apart and sorted into various components. “Parts that cannot be dismantled efficiently are shredded into smaller e-waste pieces and eventually broken down even further,” says Janet Harrington, COO of Global Sustainability Solutions. “Any dust is extracted and discarded in an environmentally safe manner. All magnetic material, including steel and iron, is removed from the e-waste debris using overband magnetic separators (think conveyor belt). Metals are then either sold as raw materials or re-used for fresh manufacturing. Finally, a water separation method is used to separate plastic from glass so they can also be sold as raw materials for re-use.”
The extracted materials can have high value. “TVs contain valuable and reusable materials such as plastics, copper, gold and glass and approximately 99 percent of the TV components can be repurposed into new electronics,” says Pines, who noted that the pilot project at the Hilton Newark Airport yielded approximately 11,340 pounds of waste.
Based on the success of the pilot, LG and Hilton are extending the program, with plans to replace old sets with LG 4K Ultra HD hotel TVs.
“Hotels located in the U.S. and within our 14 brands are eligible to participate in the TV Recycling Program,” says Pines. “The program is predicated on the successful collaboration of multiple stakeholders, including the property, LG, GSS and the recycler. The team must adhere to a strict timeline, and communication is key in order to minimize disruption to the hotel’s day-to-day activities and hotel guests.”
The program will offer two recycling options to its hotel properties. One option is a turnkey solution that includes the installation of new TVs, the removal of old TVs (50 unit minimum), TV programming and transportation to a recycling facility. The second option is for recycling services only and includes the removal of the old TVs and transportation of the old TVs to an e-recycler.
In addition to partnering with Hilton Hotels, LG has focused on making responsible recycling a priority. Over the past year, LG Electronics USA drove the collection and responsible recycling of 24,234 tons of used electronics. Diverting solid waste from landfills, this avoided the release of the equivalent of more than 63,714 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the case study.