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Publications archive - Waste and recycling


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Electrical and Electronic Products Infrastructure Facilitation

Prepared in association with Centre for Design at RMIT and Product Ecology Pty Ltd
Department of the Environment and Heritage, January, 2004

4. Televisions

4.1 Market Overview

4.1.1 Market Size

The current market for TVs in Australia is sales of approximately 1 250 000 new sets per year. No figures are currently available on how many are in use, or in storage.

4.1.2 Brand Owners

Brand owners of TVs in Australia and the location of their head offices include:

4.1.3 Retailers

Major retailers include

4.2 Product Design Trends

The following information on product trends is taken from the draft report on the TV recycling pilot (AEEMA 2003).

4.2.1 Size and Mass

Australian consumers have moved steadily towards TVs with larger screen sizes and greater weight in recent years. The present distribution of demand for TVs is outlined in Table 4.1.

Table 4.1: Distribution of demand for TVs
Receiver size (Viewable screen)
Proportion of market
Up to 34 cm
35-67 cm
68cm and above

It is expected that the current trend towards larger screen size, and consequently heavier units will continue.

4.2.2 Display Technology

TVs and computer monitors are dominated by CRTs at present. Although projection, plasma and LCD TVs are currently available, these represent a small proportion of consumer purchases at the very high end of the market. LCD technology has been investigated for toxicological impacts and while no effects have been reported to date, the backlighting in these displays is achieved using a neon tube containing mercury.

4.2.3 Materials and Design Considerations

The materials used in construction of TV cabinets has taken the product through several major stages:

The demand of environmental legislation from major markets such as the European Union (EU) are now beginning to influence cabinet development. Plastics are expected to continue to be the main cabinet construction material.

4.2.4Cost and Value

The competitive nature of the TV market strongly influences the current prices commanded by basic CRT TV product, particularly at the lower end. Purchase price invariably has some influence over the perceived value of the unit, and is also significant in terms of the feasibility of product repair and maintenance. For many sizes of basic CRT TV, the cost of repair approaches the cost of a replacement unit. It only becomes economically attractive to repair higher value equipment such as large screen TV or the newer display technologies.

4.2.5 Impact of Digital Broadcasting

Digital broadcasting legislation was introduced into Australia in 2000. As yet there has been no significant transition from analogue to digital equipment. There are several reasons for this:

The take up rate of digital TV is expected to increase as we see a greater range of equipment and content in the lead up to 2008. But the impact that this will have on the waste stream is by no means clear-cut. Many of the products that consumers are purchasing now are capable of displaying digital broadcasting with the addition of a set-top box decoder. As such, their present investment can be expected to carry them through into the digital period without the generation of a waste stream comparable to the closure of the analogue mobile telephony network.

4.3 Melbourne TV Recycling Pilot

A pilot collection and recycling project for TVs and VCRs was undertaken in Melbourne during 2001/02. It was undertaken across the eastern suburbs covering five council areas, stretching from the medium density suburban areas in Whitehorse, to rural areas in Yarra Ranges. The project ran from November 2001 to March 2002.

The aim of the project was to gather data and insight into the recovery and processing of consumer electronics. Specific project objectives were to:

Six organisations joined as project partners for the pilot, combining to form a team with the range of expertise necessary to effectively assess and address the issues associated with running a pilot project. The partners were the AEEMA, the CESA - a partner Association of AEEMA, EcoRecycle Victoria, MRI Australia Pty Ltd, Least Waste (Eastern Regional Waste Management Association) and the Center for Design at RMIT University.

The outcomes of the project included:

4.3.1 Collection Systems

Drop-off points were established at all five transfer stations in the Eastern Region. Equipment was also collected from TV service centres. Least Waste co-ordinated the involvement of transfer stations in the pilot.

Each site was given a barcode, with the intention of asking transfer station staff to affix a label to each unit as it arrived. This would have assisted with data collection, but proved too difficult and the system was abandoned.

4.3.2 Reprocessing

MRI was responsible for collecting equipment from the drop-off points and reprocessing. They designed and manufactured equipment to process CRTs from TVs, based on previous work done for computer CRTs. TV CRTs proved more difficult to handle due to wider variation in size, cabinet design and materials and product age. Procedures were also put in place to cope with related equipment such as VCRs and stereos.

The equipment was designed to require minimal capital investment and to be transportable. The latter feature was to allow it to be taken to regional and remote centres to avoid the logistical problems of transporting TVs long distances.

4.3.3 Data on Products Collected

The project collected 3 500 TVs, computer monitors and VCRs. This included equipment diverted from September 2001 - September 2002, although the pilot only ran officially for 6 months.

A breakdown of collected equipment is provided in Table 4.2.

Table 4.2: Breakdown of products
TV parts

Numerous brands of TV were collected, including many 'orphan brands' such as Thorn, Rank Arena and AWA, representing around 15% of all equipment collected.

Just over half of all units (51%) were collected from service centres and other outlets, with the remainder from transfer stations.

4.3.4 End Markets

The TVs were disassembled into individual components and materials. End markets and costs are listed in Table 4.3.

Table 4.3: Material End Markets
Material Market
Leaded glass (rear glass) Pasminco - use as a fluxing agent in lead smelting
Unleaded glass (front glass) Visy Glass - processed with other float glass into fibreglass
Phosphorus / rare earths screen linings Secure landfill, encased in concrete
Plastics Municipal landfill
Steel (shadow box) Metal recycler
Copper (yoke) Metal recycler
Wood cases Municipal landfill
Electronic components Storage for future processing

4.3.5 Costs

Costs of collection and reprocessing are summarised in Table 4.4. They included costs for plant and equipment, transport, labour and overheads. Net costs of materials recovered from the TVs were the largest single cost at around 50% of total costs. The total cost of collection and reprocessing, including costs such as R&D, and collector profit margin, but excluding the costs of administration and promotion of the program, were estimated to be approximately $22 per unit. This figure includes an allowance for collector profit of around 35%. It is indicative only, as markets for some materials and components (e.g. electronics) are highly volatile. The price received for electronics has already dropped since these figures were compiled for the TV pilot.

Table 4.4: Costs per unit of recovery, excluding plant and equipment, administration and marketing of pilot program
Cost item  
Net value ($) per unit, (ex GST)
Costs of dismantling and sale/disposal of materials Labour
Recycling side glass
Recycling front glass
Recycling electronics
Case disposal
Yoke recycling
Collection and transport  
Indirect costs  

4.3.6 Promotion

The pilot was promoted in a brochure disseminated via participating councils, through media promotion and information on RMIT's web site. All retailers in the region (19) were invited by letter to support the pilot by disseminating brochures to their customers. The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) was also contacted on numerous occasions but did not respond.

Emphasis was placed on training staff to identify materials immediately allowing them to be involved in the collection and assist customers.

Signage was also provided to highlight TV drop-off points at transfer stations.