From the Who Ever Would Have Guessed It Department, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has come out with a report detailing the “materials footprint” of televisions and computer monitors from 2004 through 2011. In comparing televisions in the 13″ to 36″ size range, the group determined that flat panel LCD TVs weigh 82% less than CRT (picture tube) models, and take up 75% less space.
That’s hardly surprising. The fact is that few of those 13″ CRT models have been replaced with 13″ flat panels, however. Maybe the larger flat panels balance out the gains. This is where the report has some interesting results; today’s 40″ to 70″ flat panels still weigh about 34% less than those smaller picture tube sets. The bottom line is that in spite of the much bigger screens, our televisions consume far less in materials. Not only does this reduce the impact of manufacturing the products, but it also reduces the energy costs required to move them around the world. We’ll still have to deal with the CRTs moving through the waste stream — hopefully being recycled — but as they reach their end of life, we can expect the overall amount of electronic waste to decline, according to the report.
So there is a case to be made that the larger flat panel that replaces your old picture tube set will be easier on the environment overall.