-July 25th, 2013
One would think that digital billboards take a bite out of our environment and adding to the carbon footprint of the outdoor ad phenomenon. The truth is, wile digital billboards contain heavy metals, aluminum and a large amount of production materials in their deaths they retain serious value- to recyclers.
Across this nation there are up to 400,000 billboards. Paper and glue are giving way to polyethylene large-format printed materials.
In ten years around 2,400 billboards have been converted to digital displays containing LED lights. Advertisers love the flexibility, and government is using this new communications platform to deliver emergency messages and to find fugitives and abducted children.
Like all electronics, digital billboards wear out eventually. Many regulators, the billboard industry leaders and anti-sign critics wondered about the fate of digital billboards once their pixels had died or the electronics blinked out.
In 2010, an anti-sign group based in Philadelphia said that digital billboards have “an abundance of difficult-to-recycle, discarded technology.”They even circulated a report, “Illuminating the Issues” by Gregory Young, which featured a photo of out-of-date cathode-ray-tube monitors with the caption: “Could digital signage one day face a similar fate?”
The group on Philadelphia was using scare tactics which turned out not to be true at all.
“Recycling is more practical than the landfill,” sums up Rod Wardle, vice president at digital billboard manufacturer Young Electric Sign Co. (YESCO) in Logan, Utah. “The landfill is not a smart man’s option.”
The outdoor advertising industry has learned that almost the entire unit can be recycled. Some parts are reused, and a fraction—less than 2 percent—is disposed of at certified facilities.
“These signs weigh up to 9,000 pounds,” Wardle says. “It’s more expensive to take a digital billboard to a landfill than it is to recycle it.”
In a real world example there was a digital billboard in St. Louis that was killed by a tornado on April 22nd. Crews dismantled all the components and hit the market.
- Aluminum = $2000.00 Sixty-four percent of a digital billboard is aluminum
- Stainless steel and copper wiring was bought (non disclosed) by local recyclers
- LED modules were separated from their plastic (you know what happens to plastic)
- Fan assemblies were scrapped as build metal and sold for spare parts.