“Have you purchased a TV to see the World Cup?” — vendors in the Brazilian capital’s appliance stores ask enthusiastically. Less than two months before the opening whistle, ever larger TV sets accumulate in store windows, leading to looks of astonishment among consumers and whetting the appetite of the appliance industry.
18 to 20 million TVs will be produced this year — 30% more than last year — and it is hoped that most of these sales (some 60%) will take place in the first half of the year, just in time for the FIFA championship, according to data from the National Association of Electric and Electronic Product Manufacturers (Eletros, in Portuguese).
But this pre-World Cup TV fever could end up being detrimental to the environment and the population. Brazil currently produces 6.5 kg of electronic waste per inhabitant per year, and this number is expected to increase to 8 kg by late 2015, meaning 1.6 billion kg of electronic waste. And the country is still to adopt measures to process them adequately.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that 2014 will be the last year in which Brazil will be producing cathode-ray tube (CRT) TV sets. Starting in 2015, factories will only be churning out plasma and LCD screens.
Although these gadgets last much longer that an intelligent phone or a tablet, the question of their disposal troubles experts.
“A substantial part of the growth in LCD screen sales in 2010 can be attributed to the World Cup in South Africa. Then, the production of CRT sets fell by 30%; this preference will undoubtedly influence the amount of electronic waste, given that consumers will replace their CRT sets for LCD ones in the coming years,” a World Bank report maintains.
According to its author, Vanda Scartezini, Brazilians tend to donate their old TV sets. However, “following the increase of the Brazilian middle class and of consumption levels in recent years, fewer and fewer people are willing to accept a small or obsolete TV set,” she says.
Because of this, in the coming years these appliances will likely be disposed of in random ways all over the place. This may be detrimental for the environment and informal recyclers.