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Making the (up)grade?

We recently covered the battle for supremacy in the next-generation television market, and what it might mean in terms of reigning in our unsustainable appetite for electronics.

But we also acknowledged that not everyone dives into the latest wave of technological advancement with rabid appetite – some prefer a slower, more considered pace of change. And for those who favour something slower than an out and out consumer revolution when it comes to TVs, there appears to be, erm, a solution – at least if Samsung have their way.

Their new, appropriately-named ‘Evolution’ upgrade kit makes a slightly older TV have the smart and HD functionality of the latest models - and keeps up accordingly year-on-year, so the company say. The potential to reduce electronic waste is certainly there, but it hasn’t received a universally positive response, by any means.

It’s certainly fair to say the ever-powerful gadget bloggers of the world are not entirely convinced. Problems cited include the tension between being a company that sells TVs or a modern ‘digital distribution’ one that simply uses TV as its platform, the currently high price-tag, and whether the product is actually as ‘future proof’ as it makes out.

With so much competition to be the new doyen of the aspirational, tech-savvy crowd, it could be argued that it’s almost impossible to be able to predict what’s round the corner, and so anticipate it with an upgradable patch on your set. Could we get to a point where the medium that's doing the upgrading needs an upgrade itself?

We’re always interested in these kinds of developments where products that will impact household and personal carbon footprints are concerned, but maybe, here in the UK, we just need to get out more and not worry too much about our tellies. Our Powering the Nation report showed that we’re watching 10billion hours more TV than previously thought. Perhaps the sustainable thing is just to vary our leisure activities a bit more.

Should you choose to disregard the last point, you should be heartened by the fact that at least companies in general seem to be doing more about electronic waste.

Electronics recycling has leapt 53 per cent in the States since a multi-lateral agreement to promote recycling, and in Europe, big changes are on the way with an EU directive enforced from 2015 to ensure that for every 100 tonnes of electronics put on sale, 45 tonnes of ‘e-waste’ must be collected. From 2019, the targets will get even steeper.

If consumers and companies make wise choices in production, use and disposal, there may at least be some hope that carbon emissions don't spiral out of control in the midst of dizzying digital advancement.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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