– 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.

About TCO Certified

IT products come with a number of sustainability challenges throughout their life cycle:

  • Human rights violations occur 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 11 product categories: displays, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, desktops, all-in-one PCs, projectors, headsets, network equipment, data storage products and servers.
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 organizations 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 verifiers, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025. Each test and verification body is reviewed regularly, both by TCO Development and independent accreditation organizations, according to ISO/IEC 17025.

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 brand book 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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Criteria in TCO Certified

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. TCO Certified also supports the circular economy by demanding that products are durable, repairable and upgradable. 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.

Criteria cover labor laws, ILO’s core conventions, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Energy Star’s energy efficiency requirements and go beyond RoHS to regulate hazardous substances.
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. TCO Certified, generation 9 will be launched by the end of 2021.
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.

Use in in purchasing

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 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 or contact us for free tips and support.

Worldwide. There are no regional variations of criteria, verification or certificate validity.
TCO Certified covers office IT products and data center products. In total, the certification is available in 11 product categories: displays, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, desktops, all-in-one PCs, projectors, headsets, network equipment, data storage products and servers. A number of criteria are common for all products, with the addition of product-specific criteria where relevant.
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 organizations, 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.

Verification of compliance

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 organizations, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025.
Independent organizations 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, 2015 and 2018. 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.

Certify your products

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 organization. The verifier then tests the product and reviews the social and environmental documentation. When all the documents and the product sample are delivered to the verification organization, 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 verifier. Assuming all the correct test and verification reports are in place, the process can take as little as two 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 organization for testing. The social and environmental documentation must also be reviewed by an independent verifier.

Independent verification organizations

You need to submit proof of compliance in three areas. Each must be reviewed by an independent verification organization.

  • 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 organizations.

Starting from TCO Certified, generation 8, we’re driving change where it is needed the most by categorizing factories depending on risk and requiring audits more often in high-risk factories than in low-risk factories. Risk category 1 is audited every 12 months, risk category 2 every 24 months, risk category 3 every 36 months. For details, please refer to the clarification in chapter 2.1.2 in any of the criteria documents for TCO Certified, generation 8.
The brand owner will need to submit the following to an approved social verifier at one of our independent verification organizations:

  • Code of conduct
  • Proof of supply chain communications about code of conduct
  • List of all final assembly factories manufacturing certified products
  • An independent audit report from a final assembly factory manufacturing certified models
  • Corrective action plan for all non-conformities
A new generation of TCO Certified is released every three years. When a new generation is launched, products can no longer be certified to the previous generation.

A certificate has a limited validity period: it is valid for two years from the date of issue, with the option to extend for one year at a time. Find a complete listing of all products that are currently certified at our Product Finder.

Products may no longer be promoted as certified according to TCO Certified once the certificate expires or the generation of criteria is discontinued.

Current generation of TCO Certified
All product categories can be certified to TCO Certified, generation 8, from December 2018 to December 2021.

Valid legacy generations of TCO Certified
Existing certificates remain valid for their regular term and will be discontinued no later than December 2020.

  • TCO Certified Displays 7
  • TCO Certified Notebooks 5
  • TCO Certified Tablets 3
  • TCO Certified Smartphones 2
  • TCO Certified Desktops 5
  • TCO Certified All-in-one PCs 3
  • TCO Certified Projectors 2
  • TCO Certified Headsets 3

Available for certification until further notice:

  • TCO Certified Edge Displays 2
  • TCO Certified Edge Notebooks 1
  • TCO Certified Edge All-in-One PCs 1
  • TCO Certified Edge Headsets 1

The manufacturer can handle the application process but the brand owner must also be involved. For example, it is the brand owner’s responsibility to submit the necessary documentation related to socially responsible manufacturing criteria on an annual basis. Both the brand owner and the manufacturer needs to sign an agreement with TCO Development.