A VOLUNTARY ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE STANDARD
Zero Waste Alliance Project Summary
The development of EPEAT was prompted by a growing demand from institutional purchasers for an easy-to-use evaluation tool that allows the selection of electronic products based on environmental performance. The electronics industry welcomes EPEAT as a tool to provide a consistent and harmonized set of environmental criteria for all purchasers and an opportunity to gain market recognition through providing environmental leadership.
The tool was developed as a project of the Zero Waste Alliance over the period between August 2002 and May 2006 under a grant from the US EPA. EPEAT was made possible by the involvement of many dozens of people from manufacturing, environmental, academic and recycling organizations and the US EPA. These people served on Development and Implementation Teams and their many sub committees. We offer most sincere thanks to these individuals.
We estimate that in the next 5 years purchases of equipment that meets the standard will save more than:
EPEAT evaluates electronic products according to 51 specific criteria into three tiers of environmental performance – Bronze, Silver and Gold. The IEEE 1680 Standard consists of 23 required criteria and 28 optional criteria. A product must meet all the required criteria in order to qualify for EPEAT bronze. Manufacturers may pick and choose among the optional criteria to boost their EPEAT “score” to achieve a higher level.
Product meets all 23 required criteria Product meets all required criteria plus
at least 14 optional criteria
Product meets all required criteria plus
at least 21 optional criteria
The three-tier system provides purchasers with the flexibility to select equipment that meets their minimum environmental performance requirements or to give preference to models with more environmental attributes. For manufacturers, EPEAT provides flexibility to choose which optional criteria they would like to meet to achieve higher levels of EPEAT qualification.
Most criteria refer to environmental characteristics of the product, and the manufacturer declares conformance to those criteria on the Green Electronics Council website for each model of their choice. Some criteria refer to general corporate programs, such as a Corporate Environmental Policy, and the manufacturer declares conformance to those criteria in an annual report. See the criteria listing: http://www.greenelectronicscouncil.org/epeat/criteria.htm.
The EPEAT criteria fall into eight performance categories:
Before listing their products with the Green Electronics Council, a manufacturer signs an agreement with the Green Electronics Coiuncil that commits to providing accurate information and provides for remedies should inaccuracies be discovered. Once they sign the agreement and pay their fee, a manufacturer can self-declare which of their products which achieve EPEAT rating.
To ensure that the self-declaration system functions in a reliable and credible manner, each year the Green Electronics Council will select some registered products to verify their conformance with the IEEE 1680 standard. For each criterion, manufacturers must, on request, provide specified data that demonstrates EPEAT conformance as a basis for these verification checks.
The acceptance of EPEAT by the purchasing community has far exceeded expectations. As of April 1, 2006 Federal and State agencies with IT budgets totaling $21.48B have included EPEAT requirements in their RFPs and contracts. Some require EPEAT registered products and some give preference to them.
An parallel project is underway to research and develop performance metrics and calculator tools that can be used by institutional purchasers, including Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC) program participants and manufacturers of EPEAT-qualified products. Through a cooperative agreement with the US EPA, the University of Tennessee is developing a calculator that will allow program participants to quantify the benefits of environmentally sound management of electronic equipment.
The FEC and EPEAT programs specify product design criteria and management activities based on environmental attributes (e.g., the elimination of toxic chemicals, the use of recycled materials, power consumption) or program activity (e.g., equipment reuse and recycling). The project will develop environmental performance metrics and quantitative tools that translate attributes and activities into environmental benefits, including:
♦ Reduction in energy use;
♦ Reduction in CO2/Greenhouse gas emissions;
♦ Reduction in persistent, bio-accumulative toxins (PBT);
♦ Reduction in virgin material use (increase in recycled materials);
♦ Reduction in municipal solid waste generation;
♦ Reduction in hazardous waste generation;
♦ Reduction in air and water emissions; and
♦ Reduction in cost, where feasible.
The calculator will assist institutional purchasers in measuring the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing EPEAT-qualified products, in addition to improvements in equipment operation and end-of-life management practices. As an example, program participants will be able to simply enter the number of bronze EPEAT-qualified products purchased, and the calculator tool will provide a breakdown of the resulting environmental benefits. Users will also be able to perform more advanced calculations and comparisons of the environmental benefits of silver and gold EPEAT-qualified products by entering additional data on which optional criteria a product meets.
The ability to demonstrate achievements will help justify potential price premiums for "greener" electronics and allow purchasers to communicate the environmental results of their procurement efforts. The calculator tool will also be used to demonstrate the aggregated environmental benefits resulting from the sale of EPEAT-qualified products, and thus the overall benefits of the EPEAT and FEC programs. The calculator tool will be available in early 2006.
For additional information: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/docs/iwg/2004_0219_environmental_benefits_calculator_draft3.pdf
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