Displays are getting larger, sharper, thinner, which doesn’t come without an environmental cost
Displays consume a large portion of household electricity, up to 10% in fact. With consumers buying ever-larger screens and watching them for longer, consumption looks set to continue increasing. For instance, the energy use of all European displays in 2014 amounted to 75 TWh per year, which is equivalent to the residential electricity consumption of the Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal combined.
Electronics manufacturing is also a highly resource and energy intensive process. New LCDs monitors and displays require the use of critical raw materials such as gold, palladium, indium and platinum, which are energy-intensive, account for non-negligible GHG emissions and have a big footprint on land use. Some displays also include hazardous substances such as mercury, lead, and brominated flame retardants, which pose serious environmental and health threats when the product is used or discarded.
What’s the European Union doing?
Unambitious Ecodesign and Energy Labelling measures were adopted for TVs in 2009. Their revision began in 2012 but was put on hold.
Rather good new standards for TVs, displays and monitors are now on the table, but the Commission's proposal is still in the legislative funnel and the market continues being regulated by the 2009 rules. The updated rules are likely to be part of the package of Ecodesign & Energy Labelling measures to be adopted by the end of 2018.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
Safeguard and quickly adopt the fairly ambitious Ecodesign & Energy Labelling proposals of the Commission, with empty A & B classes when the label enters into force;
Require that displays are tested with the latest available software, since software updates for connected televisions could adversely impact energy consumption, and this is not accounted for in the current test method;
Regulate signage displays too, notably the advertising displays which are mushrooming in our public space;
Retain strong resource efficiency requirements such as on non-destructive disassembly to guarantee access key components, plastic marking, and the provision and repair and end of life documentation by manufacturers.
Coolproducts' technical input and position papers are available below
Preliminary study on Signage Displays, Confédération Suisse, September 2017
Closing the reality gap – ensuring a fair energy label for consumers, CLASP, ECOS, EEB, Topten, June 2017
Lifetime of electrical appliances becoming shorter and shorter, UBA, November 2016