Greenwash Alert: Power-Saving Flatscreens

Discount electronics company Vizio has announced that they’ve cut the power consumption of their televisions in half. But that’s a long way from being green

Vizio best known for offering cut rates on HDTVs has rolled out a new television technology in time for the energy crisis to peak this summer, and hopefully draw panicked Americans their way. While each individual set draws almost 50% less power than the competing brands a 35 inch model will only use 55 watts, amounting to an average savings of 107 kWh, annually, cutting the average utility bill by five dollars.

This is Great News, Right?

Maybe, and maybe not. While the technical advances are certainly something to be haile dafter all, you don’t see Sony, or Panasonic, or anybody else making this announcement, and its not because they’re not trying it’s always on environmentalists to step back, look, at the larger picture, and call out green washing.

Vizio And The Great Greenwash

Vizio is an American brand, and is based in Irvine, California. While this would seem to speak well at least the money is generating revenue in the American economy the factory isn’t anywhere near the corporate suits. Vizio instead relies on a contract manufacturer called Amtran, which is based out of Taiwan and Suzhuo, China. So despite the dramatically reduced power consumption of the TVs, they’re still traveling over half of the planet to reach consumers. Worse still, while they’re at that factory, Vizio has given no indication that the processes used in building these televisions have become any more eco-friendly than they were at the inception; a menagerie of corrosives and toxic solvents are used in manufacturing.

But what about after that? They’ll have a long life with the consumer, saving tons of power over a lifetime, right? Not quite. Vizio represents one of the least-reliable televisions on the market based on rate of returns and customer complaints. And after their sets fail? The corporate recycling program is an anachronism, long left in the dust by Sony, Toshiba, and others. This is greenwashing in its most pure form.