The story of
TCO Certified

TCO Certified is the world’s most comprehensive sustainability certification for IT products. Our broad set of life cycle criteria, along with independent verification help drive greater environmental and social responsibility in eight product categories, including computers, displays and other electronic devices.

Our story began 25 years ago when we introduced TCO ’92, which included an energy saving sleep mode for computer displays. Since then TCO Certified has grown to include our groundbreaking work in areas such as hazardous materials, ergonomics and socially responsible manufacturing.

With new generation criteria every three years, we’re able to drive faster progress toward important social and environmental targets.

Learn more about our story , and how we can work together toward a sustainable life cycle for IT products.

From safety to sustainability

– the evolution of TCO Certified


TCO’92 – World’s first environmental certification for IT products, focusing on display energy consumption and emissions

Computer displays are not energy efficient and emissions cause health concerns such as headaches. There is no system for regulating these issues or helping users choose safer products.


TCO´95 – Addition of hazardous content criteria, focusing on flame retardants and heavy metals; lead, cadmium and mercury

Growing environmental concerns around IT products, including hazards of flame retardants, bromines, and chlorinated substances. Legislation is slow and doesn’t address these challenges.


TCO’99 – Becomes the de-facto standard, combining environment with display quality. New criteria for visual ergonomics

With the introduction of flat panel displays, new image performance challenges emerge. Increasing concerns about product recyclability and manufacturer environmental responsibility.


TCO’03 – Expansion to mobile product categories, introducing criteria for ergonomics, product takeback and expanded ban on lead

Concerns around image performance and product adjustability. Hazardous content and toxic E-waste are growing environmental and human health challenges as mobile device usage grows worldwide.


TCO’06 – Focus on environment without compromising moving image performance (such as response time and black level)

Growth in video and online moving image content drive a need to ensure high performance picture quality, particularly with the growth in mobile products with a display.


TCO Certified – The global sustainability certification for IT products. First to include criteria for socially responsible manufacturing

Increased awareness of poor factory working conditions in the IT industry. Issues with overtime, worker safety, forced labor and freedom of association receive worldwide attention.


TCO Certified – Broader, deeper sustainability criteria with increased verification and follow up of factory social responsibility compliance

Growing demand for industry to take action on social responsibility. Accountability for factory conditions is unclear and lack of industry transparency makes assessment difficult.


TCO Certified – Expansion of IT brand supply chain responsibility and social engagement. First list of safer, preferred flame retardants

IT brands expected to have overall responsibility for working conditions throughout the supply chain. With many hazardous chemicals banned, more knowledge is needed about safer substitutes.


TCO Certified – a circular approach to IT products by demanding durable products that can be repaired, upgraded and recycled

Increased interest in a circular economy as a replacement to the linear way of producing and consuming products. Organizations want to to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Driving sustainable development

– the impact of TCO Certified

Energy efficiency

Reduced energy consumption through the first “sleep mode” criteria for computer displays. Energy criteria for “active mode” also ensure high image performance.

Hazardous substances

Reduction or elimination of hazardous content, including chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, lead, cadmium and mercury. Elimination of untested and undocumented chemicals in certified products.

Socially responsible manufacturing

First to require IT manufacturers to demonstrate socially responsible production practices, including freedom of association. This has resulted in robust closure of factory non conformities.

Global presence

Organizations around the world choose TCO Certified as part of a sustainability strategy. Today, more than 10 600 product models from more than 400 IT manufacturers worldwide have been certified.