Frequently asked questions 2018-04-03T11:30:25+00:00
– Frequently asked questions

Answers to frequently asked questions

Find answers to questions about using TCO Certified, the criteria and verification methods. If something isn’t covered, please contact us and we’ll gladly help you. Another way to stay up-to-date is to subscribe to our newsletters.
IT products come with a number of sustainability challenges throughout their life cycle:

  • Human rights violations are common in the factories.
  • Hazardous substances are used both in products and their manufacture.
  • Products can often have a shorter life span because of poor ergonomics, low quality and when they are not able to be repaired or upgraded.
TCO Certified is the world’s most comprehensive sustainability certification for IT products. Criteria in TCO Certified drive social and environmental sustainability throughout the IT product life cycle and compliance is independently verified, both pre and post certification. TCO Certified is available for eight product categories: displays, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, desktops, all-in-one PCs, projectors and headsets.
The purpose of TCO Certified is to drive progress toward more sustainable IT products. Organizations that buy IT products can use TCO Certified as a tool for specifying relevant and current sustainability criteria. The certification also helps the IT industry structure their work with sustainability and offers a platform for continuous improvement.
It means that the criteria in TCO Certified cover both environmental and social responsibility criteria throughout the product life cycle, and that the certification meets the requirements of an ISO 14024, Type 1 Ecolabel. Independent verification partners review and verify that certified products meet all criteria in TCO Certified. Criteria and verification methods are science-based and are developed in an open process with our international network of stakeholders.

Learn more about TCO Certified.

We certify specific product models. Brands cannot be certified.
The certification system in TCO Certified is regularly reviewed both internally and externally for accuracy and consistency with the principles in ISO 14024 for Type 1 Ecolabelling. The system has also been assessed by the Global Ecolabelling Network as part of the GENICES peer review process.

All verification of criteria is handled by renown, independent verification partners, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025. Each test and verification body is reviewed regularly, both by TCO Development and independent accreditation organizations.

No. As TCO Certified is a complete sustainability certification, all certified product models have been verified to meet the full set of criteria for that category. TCO Certified Edge is a supplemental certification that can be added to certified models, for those leading edge products showing superior performance in select sustainability criteria.
No. The correct name of the certification is “TCO Certified”. This name should be used consistently wherever the certification is mentioned. “TCO label” refers to earlier generations and is obsolete. Our Style Guide offers guidance on how to use the TCO Certified brand correctly, including terminology and general facts.
The organization behind TCO Certified is TCO Development. We have worked with independent certification of IT products since 1992, and are based in Stockholm, Sweden with regional presence in Asia and North America. TCO Development is owned by TCO, a non-profit organization.

Learn more about us.

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TCO Certified includes a comprehensive set of sustainability criteria that cover social and environmental responsibility throughout the product life cycle. Criteria go beyond legislation and industry standards and include socially responsible manufacturing, engagement in conflict minerals initiatives, user ergonomics, extended product life, reduction of hazardous substances and more. To keep driving progress, a new generation of criteria is released every three years.

Learn more about the criteria in TCO Certified.

To create long-term sustainability benefits, criteria must be up-to-date, challenging and possible to meet and verify. We regularly evaluate which criteria are most important for driving real sustainability progress. A new generation of TCO Certified is released every three years, to meet new sustainability challenges and keep pace with advances in technology.

Learn more about the criteria in TCO Certified.

TCO Certified is harmonized with existing global standards and regulations where relevant and possible. Some examples are RoHS, Energy Star and key ILO and UN conventions.
Criteria and verification methods are science-based and are developed in an open process with our international network of stakeholders that includes users, buyers, brands, manufacturers, researchers, NGOs and subject matter experts.

Subscribe to our newsletters to stay up to date with our criteria development process.

To make it possible for purchasing organizations to challenge the IT industry with relevant and updated sustainability criteria, a new generation of TCO Certified is released every three years. This allows us to address the most pressing sustainability challenges and stay current with the latest technology developments.
A new generation of TCO Certified is launched every three years. The next generation will be launched in late 2018.
The best way to stay up to date with our criteria development process is by subscribing to our regular Technical Update newsletter. All updates, changes and clarifications are also published here.
Without independent verification of compliance, you can never know if the criteria are met. To test and audit products and their manufacturing facilities, extensive resources and technical expertise are needed. For credible results, it is also important that the verifiers have no affiliation with industry, purchasers or any other interest group that could influence the test results. This is why compliance with all criteria in TCO Certified is verified by independent and accredited verification partners, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025.
Independent partners accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 verify that all criteria in TCO Certified are met. They specialize in various aspects of the verification process including product testing, environmental assessments, verification of factory audits and corrective action plans.

All criteria in TCO Certified must be met before the certificate is issued. Products, factories and brand owners are also subject to tests and audits afterwards — the criteria must be met during the certificate’s full validity period.

Learn more about verification of compliance.

Criteria for socially responsible manufacturing were introduced in 2009 and developed further in 2012 and 2015. Since then, the brand owner’s engagement has increased, leading to measurable, positive effects in the factories. Demand for certified products by purchasing organizations is a key factor in achieving actual improvements.

The independent verification of compliance that is included in TCO Certified is a crucial aspect in driving positive development. All identified cases of non-compliance must be corrected, which is followed up continuously. If necessary corrections are not made within a reasonable time and with satisfying results, the certificate can be withdrawn.

Read more about our impact in our latest progress report: Impacts and Insights.

No. A code of conduct alone does not mean that problems in the factories are solved. The code of conduct must also be implemented, and backed up by independent verification of compliance. Most importantly, it must be followed-up to make sure that identified non-conformities are actually corrected. Both independent verification and monitoring of corrective action plans is included in TCO Certified, which is unique.

The IT products you purchase can come with social and environmental risks. TCO Certified is a powerful tool for helping you take greater responsibility for sustainable development through procurement. IT products are a large budget item for many organizations. Steering the budget for IT purchases towards sustainable alternatives can therefore make a big difference.
Specify the latest generation of TCO Certified in your purchasing contracts and request that the vendors show valid product certificates as proof of compliance.

Make your sustainability focus clear for vendors by including it in the contract name, eg: “Procurement of more sustainable notebooks”. In case your preferred models are not yet certified, give your vendor a qualification period (e.g. 6 months) to apply for TCO Certified.

To get started, follow our step-by-step guide.

Worldwide. There are no regional variations of criteria, verification or certificate validity.
TCO Certified is available in eight product categories: displays, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, desktops, all-in-one PCs, projectors and headsets. A number of criteria are common for all products, with the addition of product-specific criteria where relevant.

Learn more about the criteria for each product category.

IT products have complex, global supply chains with many subcontractors. Technology development is fast-paced. This means that both extensive resources and a high level of expertise are needed to set relevant product criteria and verify that they are met. TCO Certified is a complete and comprehensive solution, with criteria that balance environmental and social responsibility, as well as follow-up throughout the entire life cycle of the product.

Read more about how TCO Certified can make sustainable procurement easier.

Sustainability claims that are not backed up with concrete proof aren’t credible. With TCO Certified, all verification of compliance is handled by independent verification partners, both pre and post certification. It is important to request valid product certificates as proof of compliance.
You can find a complete, searchable listing at our Product Finder. The list is updated as soon as a new product model is certified. If you can’t find a product that a brand owner claims is certified, let us know!
Generally, brands apply for product certification when purchasing organizations ask for TCO Certified. Therefore, tell your vendors early that you intend to specify the latest generation of TCO Certified in your contract terms. Asking for TCO Certified lead to an increased number of certified products available on the market.

Learn more about how to ask for TCO Certified.

The brand owner is required to maintain full compliance with all criteria during the life of the certificate and must correct any identified non-conformities. If necessary corrections are not made within a reasonable time and with satisfying results, the certificate can be withdrawn.
It varies over time. You can find a complete, searchable listing at our Product Finder.
Yes, absolutely. We offer support free of charge when you want to purchase more sustainable IT products and use TCO Certified as a tool. Also check out “Resources” here on our website with guides, reports, webinars and other learning materials.
Certifying your products to TCO Certified is an effective way of meeting the growing demand for more sustainable products and taking greater social and environmental responsibility. Our criteria and independent verification help you structure your sustainability work and offer a platform for continuous improvement, for both products and their manufacture.

Learn more about the benefits of certifying products.

Start with reviewing the criteria, then sign a contract with us and contact a verification partner. The verification partner then tests the product and reviews the social and environmental documentation. When all the documents and the product sample are delivered to the verification partner, the certification process generally takes three to five weeks.

Step-by-step guide to certifying your products.

Generally, the certification process takes between three and five weeks, once the product sample and all the documents are delivered to the verification partner. Assuming all the correct test and verification reports are in place, the process can take as little as 2 weeks. It can also take longer if the brand owner needs to make a lot of improvements in order to meet the criteria in TCO Certified.
A certificate is valid for two years from the date of issue, with the option to extend for one year at a time. Once the generation of TCO Certified that your product model is certified to is no longer valid, the certificate expires.
A representative product sample must be sent to an accredited verification partner for testing. The social and environmental documentation must also be reviewed by an independent verification partner.

Independent verification partners.

In summary, you will need to submit proof of compliance in three areas. Each must be reviewed by an independent verification partner.

  • Product attributes (such as ergonomics, usability, energy, safety)
  • Environment
  • Socially responsible manufacturing

Learn more about independent verification in TCO Certified.

No. Auditors hired by the brand owner to carry-out the factory inspection and issue the report must be independent and have documented experience of social auditing. The auditor must have undergone the SA8000 Advanced Auditor Training or an equivalent training course.

The audit report and the corrective action plan are then verified by our independent verification partners.

The brand owner will need to submit one independent audit report per year from a tier one (final assembly) factory where the TCO Certified product is made. The audit report submitted must be less than 12 months old and must include a corrective action plan for all nonconformities in the report.
The brand owner will need to submit the following to an approved social verifier at one of our independent verification partners:

  • Code of conduct
  • Proof of supply chain communications about code of conduct
  • List of all final assembly factories manufacturing TCO Certified products
  • An independent audit report from a final assembly factory manufacturing certified models
  • Corrective action plan for all nonconformities
We definitely encourage you to use the TCO Certified brand in your communications related to certified products. The demand for more sustainable IT products is growing and offering certified products can lead to new business opportunities.

Our Style Guide includes guidance on how to speak and write about TCO Certified and how and when you can use the TCO Certified logotype. You are always welcome to contact us for more details.