Metal or plastic for monitors ?

Metal or plastic for monitors ?

Each year, 12 to 15 million displays (LCD monitors and TVs) are imported into India, which will generate a staggering 20,000 tons of non-recyclable plastic waste every year.

The plastic enclosure of these displays (back, sides, and partially on the front), weighs around 0.5Kg for small displays (below 20”), going up 3 to 4kg for larger displays. Typically, most displays last only 5 to 10 years, after which they are scrapped, and, at an average of 1.5kg per display, generating 20,000 tons of plastic waste.

To put this into perspective, it is estimated that in India approximately 5 million tons of plastic waste is generated each year, (or 14,000 per day), so the amount generated from scrap of only displays is equal to one and a half days generation of all plastic waste

The plastic waste from displays creates more of a problem since, as the plastic used is mostly ABS, it simply ends up in landfills. Theoretically, ABS can be recycled by mixing a small percentage of scrap ABS in the production of new ABS. But the total production of ABS in India last year was just around 120,000 tons and even using 5 to 10% scrap, can absorb only 12,000 tons, which does not even absorb the ABS waste from displays, leave alone all the other ABS waste being generated from other users like automobiles

So the only place the ABS waste from displays is going to go is into landfills, damaging the environment for a long, long time

What can be done? Use steel instead of plastic.

Steel can be easily recycled and steel mills can use 10 to 20% scrap in the production of fresh steel. If steel is used instead of plastic, the weight of steel scrap generated from displays will be at most 100,000 tones (empirically 5 times more weight than plastic). Since India produces 100 million tons of steel each year, the steel scrap generated by displays is only 0.1% of the country’s production, and this scrap can easily be absorbed. On the other hand, ABS scrap from only displays amounts to almost 15% of the production of fresh ABS and cannot be absorbed

The main raw material for ABS, being a plastic, is based on crude oil which is mostly imported. Most of the raw material for steel is available within India.

It seems to make environmental and economic sense for India to switch to steel enclosures for displays

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