A national recycling coalition says television manufacturers need to make it easier for American consumers to safely dispose of aging TVs, which can seep lead and other hazardous chemicals into the soil around dumps, often in China, Nigeria and other countries.

Just 12.5 percent of electronics waste in the United States is offered for recycling each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At least half of that amount, or more than 160,000 tons, is exported and dumped overseas, said Robin Schneider, vice chair of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition and executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, in Austin.

A new campaign announced Thursday by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition includes a Web site where consumers can e-mail the heads of the world's largest TV makers, including Sharp Electronics Corp. and Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co., and request free recycling programs.

"Programs that require you to pay money to recycle don't work," said Schneider.

• Click here for the Electronics TakeBack Coalition's Web site.

She called electronic waste from TVs a "crisis in the making" because of skyrocketing consumer demand for high-definition sets.

A Feb. 17, 2009, federal deadline will make millions of older analog sets obsolete, she added.

"It used to be people would take their old TV and put it in another room," she said. "But when these new technologies come in, we're going to be dumping a lot of these old ones."

The group says only Sony Corp. has so far agreed to recycle all of its electronic products at no cost to consumers through a national network of 75 pickup locations. Sony has agreed to expand that number to 150 locations by next year.

"If Sony can do that, other TV makers can too," she said.

So far, nine states including California, Maine and Maryland have laws requiring electronics recycling. There are no national laws about recycling so-called e-waste.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, formerly called Computer TakeBack Coalition, has for years pressured computer makers to offer free programs to help consumers recycle electronic waste.

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