Can ditching DVDs save the planet?

Researchers claim billions of kg of CO2 could be saved by doing so

London: A trip down to the local video, and more recently DVD, store has become a thing of the past thanks to the rise of video streaming services.

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Companies like Netflix let viewers indulge in back-to-back episodes of hit TV series at the click of a button.

Now, a new study has shown that streaming can be much better for the environment, requiring less energy and emitting less carbon dioxide (CO2) than some traditional methods of DVD renting, buying and viewing.

The researchers, who published their study today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, cite modern devices such as laptops and tablets as the reason for this improvement.

Furthermore, the driving that is required to go and buy, or rent, DVDs makes this method much more energy and carbon intensive.

A significant proportion of the energy consumption and carbon emissions for streaming comes from the transmission of data, which increases drastically when more complex, high-definition content is streamed.

The study was carried out by researchers from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California and Northwestern University in Chicago.

They estimated that if all DVD viewing in the US was shifted to streaming services in 2011, around two billion kg of CO2 emissions could have been avoided and around 30 petajoules (PJ) of energy saved.

That is the equivalent of the amount of electricity needed to meet the demands of 2,00,000 US households.

They estimated that in 2011, 192 PJ of energy was used, and 10.4 billion kg of CO2 emitted, for all methods of DVD consumption and streaming in the US.

From this, they calculated that one hour of video streaming requires 7.9 megajoules (MJ) of energy, compared to as much as 12 MJ for traditional DVD viewing, and emits 0.4 kilograms (0.9 pounds) of CO2, compared to as much as 0.71 kg (1.6 pounds) of CO2 for DVD viewing.

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