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Earlier this year the EU Parliament adopted a new public procurement directive. The directive makes it easier for purchasing contracts – including those for information technology (IT) products – to include requirements for social and environmental responsibility from electronics manufacturers. Member countries have until 2016 to implement the new directive.

The EU Parliament has signaled that social and environmental factors are now a priority in public purchasing. The use of relevant labels and certifications, such as TCO Certified, is encouraged, along with verification of product compliance. Buyers can now more easily take a sustainable, life cycle approach to the purchase of computers, smartphones and other electronics.

Gabriella Blomgren, marketing director at TCO Development, stated. “[This directive] provides needed support for EU buyers wanting to make sustainable choices, with the help of labels and certifications.”

Public purchasing in the EU is valued at 2000 billion Euros annually – approximately 20 percent of GDP. With the new directive, the public sector is now poised to make a significant contribution to sustainable development.

IT products such as notebook computers, tablets and smartphones are linked to several sustainability challenges, including environmental hazards and poor working conditions in electronics manufacturing facilities.

Blomgren concluded, “It’s important that buyers make their demands known to industry. When brands see there is a demand for sustainably, responsibly designed and made products, change for the better is more likely. TCO Certified offers manufacturers a way of making products that meet these new buyer demands and offers buyers a way of choosing the best products from a lifecycle cost perspective.”

Published in the September 2014 Edition of American Recycler News