Showing posts with label WEEE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WEEE. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2008

Digital TV going away 1 year from today!

On February 17, 2009, analog television signals—the mode of TV delivery since the 1940s—will be completely replaced by digital. Here are the basics behind this monumental change, and what it means for TV viewers.

Simply put, a digital signal is an improvement over analog. Analog signals are susceptible to interference or "noise." Digital signals are more efficient, providing better picture and sound, and the opportunity to broadcast multiple content streams.

How dramatic is the digital transition? Eighteen broadcast channels—52 through 69 on the UHF band—will no longer exist. Since digital delivery frees up space, TV broadcasts along those frequencies will be discontinued. Roughly 145 stations in the US currently use those channels, and nearly all will continue on digital channels.The newly available space won't stay empty for long. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun accepting auction bids on five portions of the 700 MHz frequency (don't bother unless you have a couple billion dollars). Additionally, a small section, 20 MHz in size, has been set aside for public safety communications.

What will it mean to you when stations and providers cease analog signals in February 2009? That depends on the equipment you useto watch television.There's no need to do anything if:
You subscribe to digital cable TV

You subscribe to satellite TV programming, like DirecTV or DISH Network

You receive over-the-air TV signals with an antenna and digital TV, or antenna and digital tuner
You'll want to take action if:

You have an analog TV and receive signals via antenna. In this case, you'll need to purchase a converter box to watch digital programming The good news: The government is offering converter box coupons worth $40 each.

To learn more and see if you're eligible, visit the TV Converter Box Coupon Program website.
Simple facts about digital TVs:

Any TV shipped after March 1, 2007 must include a digital receiver
There may be some new televisions shipped before March 1 that don't include a digital receiver. In that case, the box must have a sticker explicitly saying so

TVs without digital tuners aren't necessarily "old." For instance, some HDTV models from 2006 are "digital ready"—they'll display digital signals, but only when connected to digital cable or a digital receiver. For these, you may see phrases like "digital monitor" or "HDTV monitor" on the box

Our advice: Read carefully and ask questions if you're not sure. Check your TV manual. Call your cable service. Many of you already watch digital television. For you, our advice is simple: Enjoy.

Bose has a variety of home theater audio options to complement your digital TV. From innovative two-speaker setups to premium 5.1-channel surround sound systems, Bose brings more to your home entertainment experience.See home theater systems on »

Thursday, January 31, 2008


There are computers in the Himalayas, the Andes and the Arctic, and hardly a place left on earth to which someone has not brought a laptop or cell phone. High-tech electronics have transformed the world in ways that benefit us all. But in the 40-plus years since commercial semiconductor and computer manufacturing began, we have paid relatively little attention to the environmental and health impacts of producing and disposing of the microchip-powered devices that propel the Information Age. With 20 to 50 million tons of electronic waste discarded annually worldwide, some 2 million tons of e-waste — laden with lead and other heavy metals — going to U.S. landfills each year and environmentally risky recycling procedures overseas, the problems have become urgent.

When it can no longer be made to work, computer and other electronic equipment begins its circuitous return journey to smelters, refineries and plastics factories. In the United States, 90 percent of our discarded electronics are placed in landfills to slowly degrade, are liquefied in municipal incinerators or are stored away in basements and closets. In the absence of any federal regulation of e-waste, what we do with our electronic discards currently depends on laws enacted by state and local governments.

In recent years, state legislatures throughout the country have introduced dozens of e-waste bills, and a handful of substantive laws have now been passed. Many more are on the way. The impetus for this flurry of activity comes from several sources — primarily from overseas — that have awakened communities to the liabilities posed by improper disposal of e-waste.
Asked what spurred them to action, a number of government officials I have interviewed cited shocking photographs of e-waste exported to China, India and Africa for primitive recycling. The pictures — many taken by the Basel Action Network for its “Exporting Harm” and “Digital Dumps” documentaries — vividly show the health hazards posed by such practices. They also reveal identification tags linking the equipment to businesses, schools, governments and hospitals in the United States and other countries.

At the same time, the European Union (EU) has enacted legislation that makes electronics recycling mandatory and restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in new electronic s. Given the global nature of the high tech industry, these materials restrictions will effectively become international standards. They're already having an impact in the United States.
For example, Maine, Maryland and, most recently, Washington, have passed state e-waste bills that, like the EU's recycling law, require manufacturers to participate financially in the recycling process. Electronics recycling in the EU and in Japan carries no overt cost to the consumer, also a feature of the Washington law. The EU directive also requires manufacturers to provide materials listings to recyclers, a process in which U.S. electronics manufacturers already are involved.

Meanwhile, manufacturers have started expanding their U.S.-based take-back and recycling programs. In addition, several states — including California, Illinois, Michigan and New York — have restricted the use of substances included in the EU's legislation.

This proliferation of e-waste recycling options and requirements — confusing to consumers, recyclers and manufacturers — may prompt substantive action at the federal level. Furthermore, many changes in the design of high tech electronics to reduce their environmental impacts and health hazards are already underway. If the trend toward manufacturer participation in e-waste recycling continues, so should additional progress toward more ecologically sound products. Solving the problems posed by e-waste will require continued action, involving both consumer and industry responsibility, as well as regulation, both local and global.

Elizabeth Grossman is the Portland, Ore.-based author of High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health, published by Island Press.

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