FCC Official Presses for Bigger Agency Role In Environmental Issues

Digital TV transition causes an "enormous influx" of potentially dangerous old analog TVs into landfills.

by / May 21, 2008

The Federal Communications Commission should get more involved in environmental issues, particularly as the digital TV transition causes an "enormous influx" of potentially dangerous old analog TVs into landfills, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said in an exclusive interview with the new Green Electronics Daily.

Adelstein called for an interagency digital television task force on environmental issues including the FCC, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce, and state and local governments. He said his call for the task force has gone unheeded, and currently "there is not a structure for us to work in a cooperative fashion across different agencies, except for ad hoc meetings."

The FCC's main role in dealing with discarded TVs is informational, focusing on educating consumers on environmentally friendly alternatives for disposing of them, Adelstein said.

But the FCC might play a bigger role in environmental matters by promoting telecommuting and teleconferencing, since they reduce travel, Adelstein said. He said the best approach is promoting high-speed Internet access. "I think the biggest issue before the FCC is the need for national broadband policy," Adelstein said. Other countries are "leapfrogging" the U.S. in terms of bandwidth, he said.

Consumer Electronics Firms Unlikely to Cooperate on E-Waste

The first issue of Green Electronics Daily also reported indications that the major consumer electronics companies won't merge their e-waste programs. According to executives, Sony shows no sign of willingness to add its recycling program to a joint venture of Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba and 12 other companies. But the venture is moving ahead on expansion plans.

The same issue reports on improved fuel cell technology from Sharp, efforts to reduce toxic materials and power consumption for TVs, a new e-waste consultant for Seattle, federal legislation on accelerated depreciation for smart grids, and G-8 and International Telecommunication Union efforts to internationalize green electronics issues.