It’s a positive development to see initiatives on the market that aim to make the IT industry more sustainable. The product certification TCO Certified and the manufacturer Fairphone both offer the possibility of choosing smartphones that take social and environmental aspects into consideration. However, the report that compares Fairphone side-by-side to TCO Certified Smartphones is somewhat misleading.

In July a comparison was published that compared the criteria for TCO Certified Smartphones and the manufacturer Fairphone’s sustainability policies. The report was created by SOMO against a Dutch CSR platform called an MVO platform, and was commissioned by Südwind. It’s worth noting that TCO Certified is a sustainability certification for IT products that is also based on the importance of good ergonomics and low power consumption in the workplace. Fairphone on the other hand is a Dutch brand that mainly manufactures conflict-free smartphones, and that also takes other important life cycle aspects into consideration.

In what ways do Fairphone and TCO Certified differ?

The manufacturer Fairphone uses a small-scale production process, which gives them unmatched control over their manufacturing and supplier chains. This is very unusual in the industry. Just like Fairphone we want our certification to influence the IT industry toward greater sustainablity and social responsibility. The goals with the product certification TCO Certified is to set criteria that help the IT industry and purchasers handle sustainability challenges that are related to the manufacturing, use and discarding of IT products.

Unlike Fairphone we work with more product categories than just smartphones via our certification, and most of the IT products that we certify are manufactured in large quantities. Upscaled production leads to greater complexity and more challenges that are sometimes difficult to control. Through continuous criteria development, TCO Certified aims to contribute to ongoing social and environmental improvements.

We consider the Fairphone brand as a pioneer, and they do a good job. Going forward we hope that all IT manufacturers have similar control deep into the supply chain, and that TCO Certified can contribute to such a result. It’s a good thing that the social responsibility issue during the manufacturing process is being highlighted. Increased buyer demand for IT products that meet sustainability criteria works as an incentive for the IT industry to continuously develop their products and their manufacturing processes in order to increasingly fulfil sustainability factors. So, together we can promote a more sustainable development of IT products