Monday, 24 August 2009

EPEAT geographical expansion

The Green Electronics Council, instigator of the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) programme, has announced an international EPEAT purchasing registry, which will allow manufacturers to list ‘green’ computers and monitors in 40 countries.

Launched in 2006, EPEAT has a registry of over 1,000 products from 30+ manufacturers. As we've pointed out before, it has a lot of weight because federal acquisition regulations in the US require federal agencies to purchase at least 95% EPEAT-registered products in relevant categories. Significantly, the standards have been increasingly widely adopted outside US government purchases and starting to be looked at by public sector buyers in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Now, though, the EPEAT publicly-available registry enables electronics manufacturers to list green computers and monitors in each of 40 countries, i.e. products will be rated in each of these countries (rather than just the US). The expanded registration covers the US, Canada, various European countries, China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Mexico.

The minimum registration, the EPEAT Bronze level, requires products to meet 23 environmental performance criteria. Depending on the number of 28 additional optional criteria the product meets it can be rated EPEAT Silver or EPEAT Gold, the highest level.

It's certainly a worthwhile expansion, since products are not the same in every country so the value has been limited outside the US. It's also having an impact. According to EPEAT, in 2007 registered products helped reduce use of toxic materials resulting in the elimination of 124,000 metric tons of hazardous waste and helped save approximately 42.2bn kWh of electricity.

This is going to give a significant boost to the adoption of EPEAT as a world standard for electronic product comparison, particularly in the public sector. Much will depend on acceptance in local markets, but EPEAT points out that the criteria on which products are judged are "determined by experts with a wide range of perspectives, including manufacturers, environmental advocates, public and private purchasers, researchers, recyclers, government officials and other interested parties. Growing participation by international stakeholders ensures that the system meets the needs of local purchasers and manufacturers".

© The Green IT Review

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