Almost 30 years ago, we launched TCO Certified. The aim was to give IT users in need of better products a common voice. For the first time, the industry was challenged to take responsibility, not only for sales figures and product functionality, but also for social and environmental sustainability.

This text is part of our latest report, Impacts and Insights: Navigating the Sustainable IT Revolution – The critical role of independent verification. The report helps buyers worldwide accurately verify social and environmental aspects of their purchases.

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Over the years, the pressure from purchasers and the clear requirements of the certification have produced great results. Working conditions have improved for thousands of workers in the manufacturing industry and a variety of harmful substances have been phased out of IT products. More recent criteria updates include a circular approach, extending product life and reducing e-waste.

My view is that the pace of change will accelerate further in the coming years. Sustainability has gone from being a niche interest to becoming something that is central for so many. For a large number of organizations, it is now essential to core business, and procurement is increasingly used as a strategic tool for meeting ambitious sustainability targets.

Those who collaborate with others have more influence. If you want to promote more environmentally friendly products and supply chains where people are given fair terms, it is wise to join together with other purchasers. Not only does it make your voice louder and clearer, it also means that positive development can happen faster. When a large number of purchasers stand behind the same set of criteria, the industry can focus on relevant improvements that make a difference, instead of trying to meet lots of different requirements that may even contradict each other.

A robust ecolabel or sustainability certification makes cooperation possible. The problem is, there are many to choose from. Some are effective and credible and some are not – resulting in confusion, and often uninformed choices. Some only cover a single issue, while others are broader in scope. Some independently verify that products comply with your demands, while others ask you to rely on unproven claims from manufacturers that may be untrue.

This report gives you the insights you need to choose the right tool for sustainable procurement. With three fundamental questions, you will be able to evaluate and compare ecolabels and sustainability certifications, to find out which one to use.

During the last 30 years, we have seen the IT industry change in profound ways. Even though a lot of work remains before we reach our vision of having truly sustainable IT products, we are moving closer to reaching this target. As a purchaser, you can put yourself in the driver’s seat.

Join us in driving continued progress toward sustainable IT products!

Sören Enholm CEO, TCO Development.