– Step-by-step guide for purchasers
Guide to sustainable IT purchasing with TCO Certified
Do you need help getting started with your sustainable procurement strategy? Follow our guide for practical tips along the way.
Step 1 — prepare your organization
Ask yourself some key questions to assess your current situation
- Does your organizations have sustainability goals?
- Is sustainability included in your current procurement policies?
- Is IT purchasing integrated in the overall sustainability strategy?
- Have you discussed your sustainability policies with your IT hardware vendors?
Set your goals
- Integrate IT purchasing as part of a strategy for reaching your sustainability goals. Purchasing more sustainable products can help your organization reduce negative impacts and contribute to larger targets, such as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Analyze social and environmental risks throughout the product life cycle to determine which product categories to prioritize in sustainable purchasing. Consider also potential benefits, such as energy and cost savings, and reduction of waste.
Engage the right people
- In policy, contracting and follow up phases, involve team members with specialist competence in IT operations, sustainability, finance, and procurement. Agree upon sustainability priorities and how to measure progress.
- Educate management and team members on sustainability risks connected to IT products and how sustainable procurement can help you reduce those risks. Communicate your progress regularly to build company-wide engagement.
- Ensure management level support for both your sustainability goals and purchasing strategy. This is vital for raising the profile of sustainability as a priority and ensuring adequate support as you roll out your plan.
Step 2 — talk to your vendors
Involve suppliers early
- Make use of pre-competitive dialogs and Requests for Information (RFIs) to discuss your intentions with vendors as early as possible. Ask them which product models carry TCO Certified and which models they will need to certify. This helps ensure availability of certified products.
- Explain to your vendors that social and environmental sustainability is a priority aspect of your purchasing program and that IT products are a prioritized category for sustainable purchasing or leasing.
Communicate your sustainable purchasing goals and priorities
- Tell your vendors that you intend to specify TCO Certified in your criteria. Most often, an IT brand decides to certify their products as a direct response to purchaser requests. Making your intentions clear helps drive industry progress and ensures availability of certified products.
Step 3 — specify the criteria
State your intentions
- Consider including sustainability in the contract name to clearly state your intentions up front. For example, “procurement of more sustainable notebook computers”.
Specify TCO Certified
- Specify that products included in your IT hardware contract must be “certified in accordance with TCO Certified” during the whole contract period. Include these requirements in the contract clauses and, if necessary, give the vendor a six month qualification period to fulfil the requirement. In this way, you can accept bids from suppliers, even if all specified product models are not yet certified.
Request certificate as proof of compliance
- Proof of compliance is important. Ask your vendor for product certificates verifying that all product models delivered under the contract period are certified in accordance with TCO Certified.
Hold vendors accountable throughout the contract period
- Specify that supplied products must maintain “an active TCO Certified certificate throughout the whole contract period”, particularly if the manufacturer updates the product model during that time. The certificate is valid for two years, with the option to extend in one year periods. Your vendor should supply updated certificates as continued proof of compliance.
- Include a contract severance clause or other consequences in case a vendor does not provide valid certificates as proof of product compliance that cover the life of the contract.
Step 4 — follow-up when the contract is signed
Buy from your sustainable purchasing contract
- Make sure that your organization continues to use the IT contract that specifies your sustainable purchasing criteria, allowing you to stay consistent with your sustainability principles and better measure your effect.
- Use Product Finder to stay updated on certified models and their validity dates. Ask for certificates whenever new models are delivered.
Follow up compliance with vendors
- Follow up regularly with your vendors to make sure the products they deliver continue to maintain active TCO Certified certificates. This is especially important in case product models are being updated. An active certificate means that the TCO Certified system continues to verify product and factory compliance, saving you time and resources.
Measure your progress
- TCO Certified certificates include the following indicators for each certified model: 1. Product energy use*, 2. Percentage of recycled plastic used and 3. Total product weight. These figures can be used to help you measure progress toward climate and e-waste related goals for example. As all indicator data are independently verified, you can be confident using the figures in your sustainability reporting.
*Energy use criteria do not apply for smartphones, tablets or headsets.
TCO Certified makes sustainable procurement easier
IT products are connected to many social and environmental risks throughout the life cycle. Including TCO Certified in your purchasing contracts is an effective way of challenging the IT industry and, at the same time, positioning your organization as a sustainability leader.
Many products are already certified
Our Product Finder presents an updated list and you can search by category, brand or product name. Product finder is updated as soon as a new model is certified. If you can’t find a product that a brand owner claims is certified, let us know!
View the complete criteria
You can view the detailed criteria in TCO Certified, download criteria documents and learn more about our verification processes by visiting our certification documents page.