American Recycler — August 2008 Edition

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Switch to digital televisions expected to increase electronic recyclers’ workload
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Discarded televisions need to be diverted from landfills

The upcoming switch from analog to digital television at the start of next year may increase the amount of electronics dumped in landfills in the United States.

The numbers are staggering. Consumers are expected to get rid of 43.5 million television sets this year, 41.9 million in 2009 and 34.3 million in 2010, according to a consumer electronics trade group. But what will happen to these old televisions is hotly debated.

On one side are the environmentalists. Electronic waste is already the fastest growing portion of the waste stream, says Barbara Kyle, national coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition in San Francisco. She says the transition to digital televisions starting next year will only lead to a faster pace of consumers dumping old units.

On the other side is the $161 billion United States consumer electronics industry. “There’s never been a proven link between the purchase of a new television and the removal of an old one,” says Parker Brugge, vice president of environmental affairs and corporate sustainability at the Consumers Electronics Association in Arlington, Virginia. more



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