Tech-lovers will be pleased to know that cell phones, tablets and flat-screens aren’t just fun and convenient. They could also mean a huge reduction in e-waste, according to a report issued by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) on Tuesday.
According to the report, which was conducted by Pike Research on behalf of CEA, flat-panel televisions and computer monitors are 82 percent lighter and 75 percent smaller than their cathode ray tube (CRT) TV predecessors, even those with much smaller screen sizes.
The study noted that while millions of CRT TVs and monitors are still in use around the world, manufacturing has plummeted and will eventually fall to zero.
Those CRT heavyweights will represent the bulk of the electronics that need to be recycled in the coming years, but once they reach end-of-life, the overall amount of e-waste will decline dramatically, the report predicts.
“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, vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability at CEA.
“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,” he said. “Furthermore, the sunsetting of CRT TVs is vastly reducing the amount of electronics to be recycled.”
The eCycling Leadership Initiative – an industry-led effort to recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016 – has set out to increase recycling locations and consumer education to recycle more of these old tech giants as they enter the waste stream.
As the manufacturing of larger devices decreases, the smaller gadgets of the future represent far less e-waste, packaging requirements and transportation emissions.
Smart phones and tablets are a small fraction of the total weight and volume of the e-waste stream, including old CRT televisions and monitors, according to the report.
An old 36-inch CRT TV generated about the same amount of e-waste as 5,080 cell phones, while today’s 70-inch flat-screen TV generates the equivalent of 953 cell phones.