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Life-Cycle Assessment for Desktop Computer Displays

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About the Computer Display Partnership

The DfE Computer Display Partnership, along with the electronics industry, evaluated the life-cycle environmental impacts, performance, and cost of technologies that are used in desktop computer monitors—namely, cathode ray tubes (CRT) and liquid crystal displays (LCD). This project generated data to assist original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers in the electronics field in incorporating environmental considerations into their decision-making processes and identify areas for improvement.

This project combined both the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the Cleaner Technologies Substitutes Assessment (CTSA) approaches to analyze the environmental impacts, performance, and cost of both CRT and LCD desktop monitors.

These evaluations will help the electronics industry to:

  • Consider alternative technologies, materials, and processes that reduce releases of toxic chemicals, conserve resources, and lower risks to human health and the environment.
  • Perform an improvement assessment of display technologies and their components.
  • Meet the growing global demands for "extended product responsibility."

Project Background

The University of Tennessee (UT) Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies conducted the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) and streamlined Cleaner Technologies Substitutes Assessment (CTSA), in voluntary partnership with the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), individual original equipment and component manufacturers, EPA risk assessment experts, and other interested parties. The project focused on display technologies that can perform standard applications on 15-inch to 17-inch desktop computer monitors.

The LCA evaluated the full life-cycle of the products, from materials acquisition to manufacturing, use, and final disposition, and identified the life-cycle stages, processes, and/or materials that contribute to the environmental impacts of the products. The LCA impact categories that were considered include: resource consumption, energy use, water use, landfill space use (hazardous and non-hazardous), global warming, ozone depletion, photochemical smog, acidification, air quality (particulates), water eutrophication, water quality, human health toxicity (occupational and public), ecotoxicity (aquatic and terrestrial), and aesthetics (odor). Selected product materials were also assessed further in a streamlined CTSA, which characterized some of the more specific human health and environmental toxicity impacts associated with the product systems, and summarized performance and cost information for the display technologies.

The LCA and CTSA information can be used to identify opportunities for product improvement that will reduce potential adverse environmental impacts and costs. It will also help the U.S. electronics industry continue to meet the demands of extended product responsibility that are growing in the global marketplace.

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See all publications from this partnership.

Partnership participants

  • Apple Computer, Inc.
  • Corning Asahi
  • Dell Computer
  • Display Device Consultants
  • Display Search
  • Dupont Electronic Materials
  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • Electronics Industries Alliance
  • Ecolibrium
  • GE Power Systems
  • IBM
  • Matsushita Electronic Corporation of America
  • Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
  • Motorola
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Nokia Research Center
  • Philips Consumer Electronics
  • Polaroid Corporation
  • Princeton University, Center for Energy & Environmental Studies
  • The SemiCycle Foundation
  • Sharp Electronics Corporation
  • Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
  • Sony Electronics Inc.
  • U.S. Display Consortium
  • University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources & the Environment
  • University of Tennessee, Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9

DfE Computer Display Project Core Group

Name Agency/Organization Role
Kathy Hart U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Core Group Co-Chair
Holly Evans Electronics Industries Alliance Core Group Co-Chair
Dipti Singh U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technical Workgroup Co-Chair
Frank Marella Sharp Electronics Corporation Technical Workgroup Co-Chair
John Lott DuPont Electronic Materials  
Bob Pinnel U.S. Display Consortium  
Greg Pitts Ecolibrium  
Ted Smith Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition  
Doug Smith Sony Electronics Inc.  
Maria Socolof University of Tennessee, Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies  
David Thompson Matsushita Electronic Corporation of America  
Dani Tsuda Apple Computer, Inc.