First published by Future of Sourcing

IT products come with many social and environmental challenges. Conflict minerals, supply chain working conditions, hazardous substances, e-waste as well as the “take, make, use dispose” model of the linear economy demonstrate that the challenges and risks connected to our digital devices run wide and deep. Purchasers and users of technology are at the forefront of asking for better product options.

There are two important sourcing aspects to consider: getting your sustainability priorities clear for vendors and making more informed product choices. TCO Certified is the independent sustainability certification for IT products and a leading decision support tool, providing robust sustainability criteria and independent verification of IT products for almost 30 years. Here, TCO Development, the organization behind TCO Certified, shares a behind-the-scenes look at how it’s done.

Purchasers hold the key to driving sustainability

More than ever, sustainability is an integrated part of core business, which puts procurement at the forefront of delivering on targets for environmental, social and financial responsibility connected to products used in the organization.

When it comes to IT hardware, the risks are significant. Buyers need to know that products are made responsibly with respect for human rights and worker safety in manufacturing. They also need more transparency around product content and how to reduce the environmental impact of computers and servers, for example. The challenge for purchasers is the complexity of both the IT supply chain and the products themselves, making these risks almost impossible to assess without specialist expertise.

This is where external tools such as TCO Certified come in. Using TCO Certified helps purchasers achieve three main goals. Firstly, it’s a clear signal to industry that sustainability matters. The primary driver of IT industry action on sustainability is demand from IT buyers.

Secondly, the right combination of environmental and supply chain responsibility criteria provides purchasers with a way to cover sustainability aspects even in the manufacturing phase.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it reduces risk of greenwash and reliance on unproven manufacturer claims. When an ecolabel or certification requires independent verification, this delivers vital proof to purchasers that the products they buy, and the factories where they’re made, have been independently assessed and are included in a system of continued monitoring.

Increased interest from notebook PC purchasers

TCO Certified has more than 3,500 certified products from over 2