MAC: Mines and Communities

Toxic metals registery to be globally repeated

Published by MAC on 2009-08-25

What about a global registry which aims at minimising the unacceptably high levels of cadmium, lead and mercury used in computers?

It sounds like a good idea - and one which couldn't come too soon.

EPEAT Green Electronics Purchasing System Goes Global


11 August 2009

PORTLAND, Oregon - The Green Electronics Council has created an international EPEAT purchasing registry, a development that enables electronics manufacturers in 40 countries to list their environmentally-friendly, energy efficient computers and monitors. Until now, the EPEAT registry has been available only for computer gear sold in the United States.

Compared to traditional computer equipment, all EPEAT-registered computers have reduced levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury to better protect human health and the environment. They are more energy efficient, which reduces emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases, and they are easier to upgrade and recycle.

EPEAT stands for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, a program that evaluates computer desktops, laptops, and monitors based on 51 environmental criteria developed through an extensive stakeholder consensus process supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPEAT system is managed by the Green Electronics Council, a program of the nonprofit International Sustainable Development Foundation headquartered in Portland.

"Since launching EPEAT in 2006, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response from large purchasers, manufacturers and consumers across every sector of the global marketplace," said Jeff Omelchuck, executive director of EPEAT.

"With the international registry launch, EPEAT now makes it easy for purchasers in 40 countries around the world to choose green electronics that cut costs, green IT environments and help lead the transition to a prosperous, low-carbon economy," he said.

EPEAT has developed a registry of more than 1,000 products and more than 30 participating manufacturers, large and small. The U.S. government requires federal agencies to buy EPEAT-registered products for at least 95 percent of their needs and hundreds of government and enterprise purchasers worldwide require products registered with EPEAT.

"We recognized early on that EPEAT provided an effective, credible tool to identify computer hardware solutions for our clients that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate toxic substances, increase recycled content and reduce energy usage, at no added cost and with no restrictions on product or supplier choice," said Tashweka Anderson, sustainable IT business manager at ComputaCenter in the UK.
Products that meet 23 required environmental performance criteria may be registered at the EPEAT Bronze level.

Depending on the number of 28 additional optional criteria the product meets, it can be rated EPEAT Silver or EPEAT Gold, the highest level.

Manufacturers must offer environmentally responsible recycling options for all EPEAT-registered products.

Products are rewarded with additional points as they meet environmental performance criteria related to every phase of the product lifecycle.

"The EPEAT system offers Sony a clear and impartial way to assess and communicate the success of our environmental design initiatives," said Mark Small, vice president environmental health and safety at Sony.

"EPEAT is providing a critical forum through which many different stakeholders come to the table to develop criteria addressing key environmental attributes that span the lifecycle of electronic products," said Alexandra McPherson, project director at the nonprofit Clean Production Action.

"It now will provide the global marketplace with an innovative standard that helps purchasers differentiate products based on their environmental performance," she said.

EPEAT says its registry helps organizations reduce energy consumption, cut costs, integrate sustainable materials and grow greener in every aspect of their operations.

In 2007, Omelchuck says, EPEAT-registered products helped reduce use of toxic materials resulting in the elimination of 124,000 metric tons of hazardous waste. EPEAT products helped save about 42.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to power 3.7 million U.S. homes for a year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded the EPEAT development process over the period between August 2002 and May 2006 through a cooperative agreement with the Zero Waste Alliance. EPA also provided a grant of $375,000 over three years to the Green Electronics Council to fund initial start-up costs. Now that the start-up phase is over, EPEAT is funded by fees paid by the manufacturers based on their relative size in the market.

Purchaser profiles, the participating manufacturer list, EPEAT criteria and environmental benefits are online at:

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.

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