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Study Cites Benefits of Smaller, Lighter Flat-Screen TVs

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ARLINGTON, VA.—The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) issued a report detailing the dramatic reduction of TV and computer monitor sizes and weights since the advent of flat-panel monitors and TVs. The report, Materials Footprint Reduction of Televisions and Computer Monitors: 2004-2010, found flat-panel TVs are 82 percent lighter and 75 percent smaller than their cathode ray tube (CRT) TV predecessors of a similar screen size. The report also found today’s 40- to 70-inch flat-panel TVs weigh 34 percent less than 13- to 36-inch CRT TVs.

“The staggering reductions in materials in TVs and computer monitors have real and lasting environmental benefits, from the supply chain through recycling and disposal,” said Walter Alcorn, CEA vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability. “Dramatically lighter and smaller TVs and monitors reduce the amount of resources needed to manufacture the product, and slash the amount of required packaging and fuel used to transport these products. Furthermore, the sunsetting of CRT TVs is vastly reducing the amount of electronics to be recycled.”

The study, which was conducted by Pike Research on behalf of CEA, underscores that while there are still millions of CRT displays in use worldwide, manufacturing capacity has plummeted precipitously and will eventually fall to zero. Those CRT TVs and monitors represent the bulk of electronics needed to be recycled in the coming years, and once most of those hefty TVs and monitors reach end-of-life, the overall amount of electronic waste will decline.

First of Many Technical Reports

The eCycling Leadership Initiative, an industry led effort to recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016, coordinated by CEA, set measurement and transparency as one of its key principles along with bolstering consumer education of eCycling and increasing the number of recycling locations and infrastructure needed to reach the one billion-pound annual target. This report is the first of many technical reports on issues relating to end-of-life electronics.
 
Additionally, while consumer ownership of smartphones and tablets is on the rise, CEA’s 13th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study, released in May, found that the number of discrete CE products per household declined to 24 this year from 25 in 2010, in part because device functions are consolidating. Smartphones and tablets represent a small fraction of the total weight and volume of the electronics waste stream, including old CRT televisions and monitors. The Materials Footprint report found that while an old 36-inch CRT TV generated about the same amount of electronics waste as 5,080 cell phones, today’s 70-inch flat-screen TV generates the equivalent of just 953 cell phones, and a 30-inch flat-panel computer monitor’s weight is equivalent to 211 mobile phones.

“The report illustrates a measurable, positive environmental impact new technologies have made in reducing the materials footprint of consumer electronics products,” Alcorn concluded. “We expect the trend of ever-shrinking electronics to continue, whether it’s a 70-inch TV or a handheld device.”
 
The Materials Footprint report follows another study released by CEA in February that illustrated the increased efficiency of TVs since 2003.

Go to CEA.

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