TVs: Looming e-Waste Challenge - updated

The EPA estimates ~100 million analog television sets are already in storage. More analog television sets will become obsolete over the next two years as analog over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting is terminated in favor of digital-only signals (DTV). According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) survey report "Trends in Consumer Electronics (CE) Afterlife", consumers intend to sell, donate, or recycle 95%. Will this really happen . . . ?

The report appears to be silent on the question of whether or not a sell/donate market will actually exist for this many analog units, which will display programming only if attached to cable or satellite service or to a digital-to-analog OTA converter box. The report does claim that "consumers report recycling nearly 30 percent more TVs in 2007 than in 2005." The CEA offers an online resource for consumers looking to recycle their e-waste.

(BTW, many reports say that the average CRT-based TV set or computer monitor contains 3-8 pounds of lead, but don't cite original sources. Please comment if you know of a credible source for this statistic.)

In a related trend, while the conversion to DTV may help home energy consumption by replacing CRT-based sets with more energy-efficient flat panel displays, upgraded display specs and converter boxes may offset those gains.

Updated 2010.07.27
See which states cover DTV converters in their e-waste laws.