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Ethical Technology – Televisions

Some new televisio‍‍‍ns contain integrated digital facilities to remove the need for a separate set-top box, which will save energy in the long term – just don’t leave it on standby when there’s finally nothing left to watch.

Don’t dump ‍‍‍that set

Around 2.5 million TV sets are dumped every year in the UK. Landfilled or incinerated sets mean a loss of resources and are a potential pollution hazard, as plastics and cathode ray tubes can contain toxic substances. With the advent of digital television it’s important to know that you don’t actually need to buy a new set. A simple £20 set-top box will allow most analogue televisions to receive digital TV signals. Visit for more information. When looking for a new set, aim for a higher quality and more durable model, and preferably one that will be suitable for upgrading in future.

Energy efficiency

Producing the energy necessary to power our tel‍‍‍evisions creates approximately 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 10,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide per year. Manufacturers seem to have picked up on this and, as a rule, newer TVs are more energy-efficient than earlier ones. Friends of the Earth has estimated that by leaving our televisions in standby mode we waste around £12 million worth of electricity each year. Studies by Which? magazine have shown that some sets use more energy when left on standby than others. Sony, Ferguson, Matsui, Samsung and Sharp came out best, using under five watts in standby mode, compared with more than ten watts used by Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Toshiba and Sanyo models. Either way, the message is to get up from the sofa and switch it off!


The average television set is 50 per cent glass, and a surprising quantity of raw materials goes into its manufacture. Making the glass screen needs sand and electricity, while the glass for the cathode ray tube contains lead oxide and is coated in graphite to absorb X-rays. These impurities make the tube the hardest component to recycle, and is partly why liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are a less environmentally damaging alternative to conventional screens.

The production of circuit boards uses chemicals, water and energy and generates more hazardous waste than any other part of the TV, including airbourne particulate pollution and chemical waste. TVs casings often use brominated flame retardants (BFRs), the making of which can have an effect on human and animal health. Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for BFRs to be outlawed – see their website,, for more information.

We have created ethical comparison rankings for the following brands, based on the activities of the company group (see above tables): Beko, Akai, Bang & Olufsen, Matsui, Sharp,Bush, Goodmans, Grundig, Hinari, Ferguson, Thomson, JVC, Casio, LG, Aiwa, Philips, Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Sanyo, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Toshiba.

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning we earn commission if you click through and make a purchase. Placement and use of these links has no bearing in terms of the ethical scores that we give to a brand.  All commission earned by The Good Shopping Guide is re-invested into the research carried out by The Ethical Company Organisation.

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