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June 2006

Electronics environmental standard encouraged with certification

A new voluntary standard has been established for computers and computer monitors to help personal and corporate purchasers reduce the environmental impact of the electronics they buy and discard. The new standard is the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association) 1680™ “Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products.”

This new standard offers criteria in eight categories – material selection, environmentally sensitive materials, design for end of life, end-of-life management, energy conservation, product longevity and life-cycle extension, packaging, and corporate performance.

The standard is part of a project called the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), funded by the EPA and managed by the Green Electronics Council (GEC). EPEAT promotes continued improvement in electronic device design to make technology more environmentally friendly. It also serves to inform environmentally conscious consumers of which products have the smallest environmental impacts.

The GEC will begin keeping a registry of computer products that meet IEEE 1680 criteria, starting in June 2006. They will also verify that manufacturers provide factual and up to date data about their products.

The new standard, which has been recognized by the American National Standards Institute, has already been referenced by government agencies and private purchasers for more than $21 billion worth of IT equipment contracts and requests for proposals. This is a good indication that many agencies will purchase EPEAT-certified products as they become available.

The EPA estimates that over the next five years the EPEAT program will result in reductions of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste by 4 million and 1 million pounds respectively, and an energy savings of more than 200,000 MWh, or enough to power 2 million homes.

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