Electronics TakeBack Coalition Supports Obama’s call to delay the digital TV conversion

Media Center: Press Releases


January 08, 2009


Delay could save millions of old toxic TVs from landfills or global dumping

The Electronic TakeBack Coalition (ETBC) announced its support for President-elect Obama’s request to push the digital TV conversion back from February 17, 2009. While Obama’s transition team is concerned with consumer readiness, pushing back the digital conversion would also give television manufacturers more time to create and implement responsible electronics recycling programs. ETBC urges manufacturers to take back and responsibly recycle their old products, particularly as many customers purchase new televisions in preparation for the digital conversion. Currently, five TV manufacturers have national takeback programs, compared to none in 2007.

Barbara Kyle, the national coordinator of the ETBC said, “Pushing the digital conversion later in 2009 could save millions of toxic old TVs from ending up in our landfills or poisoning workers and children in other parts of the world. Hopefully the incoming Obama administration will delay the conversion, and act to encourage manufacturers to do the right thing and responsibly recycle their old products.”

Most old electronics are either dumped into landfills, where their toxins can pollute our groundwater, or are exported to developing nations. Those exported electronics, as recently seen on 60 Minutes, are often dismantled by bashing and melting them, exposing workers and children to the toxins inside of them. In fact in Guiyu, a region in China where many electronics end up, over 80% of children tested positive for lead poisoning. While many consumers think they’re being responsible when they drop of their old TV at a recycling center, without responsible manufacturer recycling programs they just don’t know where those old TVs might end up. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition is pushing Congress for legislation to ban the exportation of toxic e-waste to developing countries, and legislation is expected to be introduced early this year.

“The digital conversion should be delayed until Congress has passed legislation banning the export of toxic e-waste to developing countries. We need to close the door on global e-waste dumping before they throw the switch on the digital conversion, ” said Barbara Kyle.

The ETBC recently released a TV Recycling Report Card, grading the major TV manufacturers on their efforts to establish national programs to take back and recycle their old products. More than half of the 17 companies ranked scored a failing “F” grade because they have no recycling program in place. Sony received the highest grade with a B minus, with other companies scoring the C’s and D’s.