Part 3. Testing the testers – Lab accreditation and Round Robin testing
Part 2. Quality assurance – Product Testing and Verification
Part 4. The science behind the certificate – the research behind the criteria
Product and Factory compliance with TCO Certified
TCO Certified is a type 1 Ecolabel in accordance with ISO 14024. This means that criteria are developed in an open, multi-stakeholder process and are based on scientific principles. It also means that compliance with the criteria is verified by an independent third party.
Behind every TCO Certified product is a rigorous process of product testing and verification to make sure each model meets all the environmental, social and health/safety requirements relevant to the product category. Final assembly factories are also third party audited for socially responsible manufacturing.
To qualify for TCO Certified, the manufacturer follows these steps to verify compliance:
1. Product compliance – Submit a product sample to an accredited test facility for product testing according to TCO Certified criteria
2. Factory compliance – Submit a third party social audit report from a final assembly facility
3. Apply for TCO Certified – Once all testing and verification is passed, the manufacturer / brand applies for TCO Certified.
Verification of compliance doesn’t stop at product certification. Follow up spot checks of products and manufacturing facilities help monitor continued compliance even after a product is certified.
Product Compliance – testing and environmental verification
Here’s a closer look at what’s included in the product test and verification process. Facilities and labs testing products for TCO Certified are accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 and are impartial throughout the process. All communication is between the manufacturer and test personnel at the selected facility.
Each criterion includes specific test methods and thresholds that define a pass or fail result. Test facilities are required to test the product using these methods and specially calibrated equipment to ensure consistent results regardless of where a product is tested. To pass, the sample must meet all criteria in these areas:
• Display performance
Luminance, color, contrast, resolution (for desktop displays and all products with an integrated display)
• Ergonomic design
Product adjustability – tilt, height of displays, adjustability of headsets. Ergonomic keyboard in notebooks and usability aspects such as easy access to connection ports.
• Energy consumption
If the product category is eligible for Energy Star, then this is the accepted compliance for TCO Certified. In categories with no Energy Star specification, then the product is tested for energy consumption according to efficiency criteria developed specifically for TCO Certified.
• Health, Safety and Emissions
Products must meet requirements for electrical safety, low electromagnetic and chemical emissions, acoustic protection and the reduction of common allergens used in certified products. There are also limits on the use of hazardous chemicals that can potentially leak from the product during use, collect in dust and post health risks to the user.
• Environmental compliance
The test facility verifies compliance with all environmental criteria in TCO Certified as declared by the manufacturer. This includes reduction in hazardous substances, product and packaging content for responsible end of life handling and recycling. The manufacturer declares product material content and provides evidence of product take back programs.
Factory Compliance – environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing
Along with product testing, manufacturing facilities must also comply with criteria for social and environmental responsibility, including:
Commitment to international conventions and local laws for labor rights and protections. Specifically, the brand must show that the factory has measures in place to follow:
- ILO Core Conventions
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 32
- Laws for Labor rights, health and safety in the country of manufacture
- Laws for minimum wage and social security in the country of manufacture
As proof of compliance, the brand submits a report from a third party factory social audit completed in the past 12 months. This audit is carried out at a final assembly facility manufacturing TCO Certified products and also includes a corrective action plan (CAP) designed to address any non-conformities.
The social audit report and CAP are submitted to a third party verification organization specialized in CSR issues. The report and CAP are analyzed and a report issued, recommending whether the factory should be considered compliant or whether non-conformities need further action in order for compliance with TCO Certified to be possible .
Follow up of corrective action plans is vital if continual improvements are to be made at the factory level. This is why TCO Development also carries out follow-up audits and factory spot checks, made with the help of a qualified third party auditor. In this way, continued compliance and improvements are documented and verified.
About our independent verification partners
All testing and verification is carried out by independent third party specialist organizations. These organizations are typically world-renown test houses that specialize in electronics, social responsibility or sustainability issues.
All organizations testing for TCO Certified are accredited by ISO/IEC 17025. Testing and communication of results is handled confidentially between the test facility and the manufacturer. TCO Development becomes involved only at the time the manufacturer applies for certification.
The importance of third party testing
Independent testing and verification of compliance by an independent third party is a key aspect to the quality assurance of TCO Certified. It helps provides buyers with the confidence that the product can live up to its sustainability claims and makes side-by-side product comparisons easier. By including TCO Certified in purchasing, contracts, buyers can also cover a volume of sustainability aspects with the help of a single certification.