Switch to digital televisions
to increase electronic recyclers’ workload
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.