We all know that today's flat-screen TVs weigh far less than old-style CRTs, or they wouldn't be able to hang on the wall. New research from the Consumer Electronics Association finds that this translates into a massive savings of electronics waste.
The report found that today’s flat screen TVs are 82% lighter and 75% smaller than cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs. In other words, 40- to 70-inch flat-panel TVs weigh 34% less than 13- to 36-inch CRT TVs. Plasma TVs have also gotten dramatically lighter. They weighed 125 pounds on average in 2004. Today they average a slim 59 pounds. Now that's an effective diet.
This reduction in materials has a staggering downstream effect. The report proclaimed that "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, conducted by Pike Research on behalf of CEA, says.
So flatter is clearly greener and we don't mean the picture quality. This is only true if the replaced CRT was responsibly recycled. If that heavy old thing winds up in the landfill, then buying a new TV is a poor choice for the environment. There are millions of CRT displays being used worldwide and that means that today's CRT TVs and monitors are a looming e-waste problem. Indeed, the CEA says that these will make up the bulk of the electronics waste that needs to be recycled in the coming years. The rainbow here is that once those hefty TVs are gone, electronics waste worldwide should be greatly diminished.
“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 in a written report. “We expect the trend of ever-shrinking electronics to continue, whether it’s a 70-inch TV or a handheld device.”
This report was produced as part of the CEA's eCycling Leadership Initiative, an effort to recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016. The initiative includes increasing recycling locations and infrastructure.