Expert Speak

How EPEAT Is Turning Electronic Products Into Greener Electronics

Electronic Products

By Sarah O’Brien, Director of Global Stakeholder Engagement, Green Electronics Council

As India moves closer to realizing its full manufacturing and economic potential, initiatives such as Zero Defect/Zero Effect will be critical to mitigate environmental and human impacts of growth. Similarly, the country’s adoption of EPEAT, the definitive global rating system for greener electronics, has generated tangible environmental, energy, and cost savings since its launch last year, giving environmentalists, purchasers – and manufacturers – much to cheer about.

Customers’ desire for sustainable electronics is rising as they become attuned to e-waste – which, left unchecked, will reach an estimated 65.4 million metric tons globally by 2017. In response, manufacturers and government regulators seek proven, rigorously developed and easy-to-use procedures to inform product design, manufacture and take-back.

EPEAT establishes a uniform “measuring stick” for electronic products, based on energy consumption, toxics elimination, product longevity, use of recycled content and ease of recycling. It also requires manufacturers to provide take-back and responsible recycling at end of life. EPEAT’s thousands of purchasers worldwide can then easily compare product environmental performance via a central online registry – a powerful signal to manufacturers of market demand for environmentally preferable products.

A broad portfolio of qualified PCs, displays and imaging devices (printers, copiers, scanners) are EPEAT-registered in India and evaluated against over 50 criteria aimed at reducing environmental impact. Products must meet all mandatory criteria to qualify for EPEAT Bronze registration, while Silver and Gold ratings require an added +50% or +75% of optional criteria, respectively.

Since July 2014, EPEAT-compliant devices in India from participating manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP, Ricoh, Toshiba and Bangalore-based VXL Instruments have risen from 145 PCs/displays to 279 PCs/displays and 35 imaging devices, totaling 314 registrations – a 117% increase since program inception. Nearly 3 million purchased EPEAT-registered products will generate important environmental benefits and energy savings. Critically for purchasers, EPEAT products will save an estimated USD $85 lakhs (~54.3 crores of rupees) in energy costs in the first year alone, reducing annual energy usage by 85,490,530 kWh compared to use of non-compliant products.

As early results in India show, by committing to purchase environmentally preferable products through accredited ratings systems like EPEAT, governments and enterprise can provide significant market incentives to manufacturers to produce such products. This in turn drives down cost of preferable goods, eliminates toxic and environmentally harmful materials from the supply chain and, most importantly, helps assure our planet’s safekeeping for future generations.

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