EPEAT - Assessing Electronics
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The Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) includes two major elements:
- A set of environmental performance criteria for computers and monitors that have been adopted as an American National Standard by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) through a voluntary consensus process. The standard is IEEE 1680 , which became final and publicly available in April 2006.
- A Web-based system that enables three things:
- Manufacturers to declare that their product(s) meet specific environmental performance criteria laid out in the IEEE 1680 standard;
- The verification of the accuracy of the declarations; and
- A listing of all registered products for purchasers.
The system is managed by the Green Electronics Council , to which EPA awarded a grant in February 2006. The grant included funding from OPPT, EPA's Office of Solid Waste, and EPA Regions 2, 5, 9, and 10. The grant ended in December of 2008, and the Green Electronics Council is now self-sustaining based on manufacturer registration fees. The Web site housing all vendor self-declarations that their products meet EPEAT criteria became available for institutional purchasers to access in July 2006.
Development of EPEAT was prompted by a growing demand by institutional purchasers for an easy-to-use evaluation tool that allows the selection of electronic products based on environmental performance. Supported by EPA, EPEAT was developed by a multi-stakeholder group, including government, industry, non-governmental organizations and purchasers. The electronics industry has welcomed 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 environmental leadership.
- The second annual report quantifying the environmental benefits of EPEAT purchases was issued June 17, 2008, by the Green Electronics Council.
According to the report, over 109 million EPEAT-registered products were purchased in 2007, a 150% increase from 2006. In the United States, EPEAT-registered desktop computers accounted for almost 40% of all desktop computer sales in 2007. Worldwide purchases of EPEAT-registered desktops, notebooks, and monitors will result in the following environmental benefits when compared to conventional products:
- Reduces use of primary materials by 75.5 million metric tons, equivalent to the weight of more than 585 million refrigerators
- Reduces use of toxic materials, including mercury, by 3,220 metric tons, equivalent to the weight of 1.6 million bricks
- Eliminates use of enough mercury to fill 482,381 household fever thermometers
- Avoids the disposal of 124,000 metric tons of hazardous waste, equivalent to the weight of 62 million bricks
In addition, due to EPEAT's requirement that registered products meet ENERGY STAR specifications, these products will consume less energy throughout their useful life, resulting in:
- Savings of 42.2 billion kWh of electricity -- enough to power 3.7 million U.S. homes for a year
- Elimination of the release of 174 million metric tons of air emissions (including greenhouse gas emissions) and almost 365 thousand metric tons of water pollutant emissions
- Reduction of 3.31 million metric tons of carbon equivalent greenhouse gas emissions -- equivalent to removing 2,630,000 U.S. cars from the road for a year
- EPEAT-registered products must meet 23 mandatory environmental criteria to be included in the EPEAT Product Registry . There are an additional 28 optional criteria used to determine whether products earn EPEAT Bronze, Silver, or Gold recognition. As of January 2009, there were 30 manufacturers with 1053 EPEAT-registered products listed in the EPEAT Product Registry Web page located at EPEAT , including products from the top 7 sellers of IT products in the U.S. market. In June 2007, HP and Dell registered the first EPEAT Gold products, which included desktops and laptops, and the number of manufacturers with Gold products continues to grow.
- OPPT assisted in developing language that was added to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) on December 26, 2007, as an interim final rule requiring all federal purchasers to buy EPEAT registered products.
- Based on stakeholder demand, EPA has provided partial funding to develop four additional multi-attribute environmental performance standards for electronic products: imaging equipment, televisions, servers, and cell phones/PDAs. Work is currently underway to develop a standard for imaging equipment, and a study group has formed to consider developing a television standard. The existing computer standard is also being revised to further strengthen its environmental performance criteria.
- Stakeholders have asked EPEAT to expand to both market EPEAT-registered products to consumers, and to address products of which consumers are the primary purchasers. Work is underway to explore the best and most economical marketing approaches to undertake.