9 Feb 2010

TV mountain for Gloucestershire?

I recently wrote to Digital UK to ask what advice they gave to local authorities regarding the increase in waste televisions resulting from the switch over from analogue to digital - here in the West we have less than two months to go: 24th March and 7th April are the key dates.

Anyway I learnt from them that because no one needs a new TV to make the switch to digital television, that no advice is given. Well that answer didn't wash with me and since then I have found some worrying evidence of vast numbers of televisions being thrown out. Indeed I have now written to Stroud District Council raising concerns and they already note a rise in televisions.

Stroud have accurate figures as television sets are collected separately now as they are classed as a hazardous waste(as fridges and freezers are). Each quarter SDC receives a total tonnage of TV's sent for treatment from Glos County Council. The figures for last year and this year are as follows:-

2008/09 Q1 4.48 Tonnes, Q2 3.78 Tonnes, Q3 3.57 Tonnes and Q4 7.14 Tonnes
2009/10 Q1 4.75 Tonnes, Q2 5.54 Tonnes, Q3 (an estimate at this stage) 6.3 Tonnes

I hope SDC will issue a press release at the very least reminding folk they do not need to get rid of their televisions and that if they do, that they need to dispose responsibly.
"Cumbria was the first place to switchover and there was statistical evidence from there that showed that some people got rid of their old analogue TVs for new digital ones." Scott Butler, general manager of the European Recycling Platform Manager WEEE compliance scheme writing in the 'Materials Recycling Weekly'
Indeed The Guardian reported some 70% rise in waste TVs in Cumbria and in Devon county council a near doubling of dumped TVs between last April and September
"There hasn't been any other transition that has had the potential for the significant influx of e-waste at one single time." Matthew Coz, VP of Growth and Commodity Sales for Waste Management's recycling services.
"We're facing a tsunami of waste and some of the worst waste. It is some of the most toxic waste, yet it has the least value from a commodities standpoint because of the cathode ray tubes." Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network (BAN), a charity combating toxic waste.
An estimated 284 million television sets need converting. This has the potential for vast amounts of waste being produced as outdated televisions are disposed of and new units are purchased. See more on the Digital UK site re their advice re disposal here.

We should also not be exporting large quantities of something that will cause harm. We saw recently that Greenpeace used GPS technology to track an unrepairable television from a recycling center in the UK to Nigeria. Despite this being illegal, such activities still widely occur. Overseas recycling operations are often "horrifically primitive." Many workers do not use protective clothing and byproducts are directly discharged into the environment. The ensuing air, water, and soil contamination is causing severe health problems in local communities.

It was over three years ago I raised concerns about the impact of the switch to digital - see here - it is astonishing so little is mentioned in the press about the significant carbon footprint it creates - there seems to be still too little awareness about what impacts we have on the world.....All this is perhaps a little ironic from someone who doesn't have a television - I'm not against them! However just don't seem to have time to watch due to meetings most nights - still love a good film on DVD on the computer when I get the chance.

1 comment:

Phantom88 said...

Yeah, you don't need a new telly, as a digi box should convert the digital signal into a signal that can go into your old TV..
BUT, if you have an old TV, like mine, that doesn't have a SCART(multi pin thing) socket, make sure that you get a digi box that has on old output that can go into the back of the TV, like the aerial does.