– 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.
  • Develop policies and plans with measurable goals and targets for reduced environmental and social impact of IT products. These can include increased responsibility in the supply chain to reduce human rights violations, and longer product use, product re-use and takeback to drive circularity.
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
  • Ask vendors about their short and long term progress in product and supply chain sustainability, including working conditions in manufacturing and reduced environmental impact. Discuss your intentions in areas such as longer product use, e-waste reduction and product re-use.
  • 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 c