Responding to growing demand by large volume computer purchasers seeking to buy more environmentally sensitive computers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the Green Electronics Council to develop and maintain a list of computers, laptops, and monitors meeting strict environmental criteria. Manufacturers will identify products meeting the recently developed Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) criteria, and the Green Electronics Council will verify the credibility of these claims. The Green Electronics Council will post the initial green computer registry online in June 2006.
Even though EPEAT is not yet operational, it is already referenced in $16 billion worth of upcoming computer purchases. To meet this demand, green computers are currently in development by many of the major computer manufacturers. They have significantly reduced levels of hazardous materials such as cadmium, mercury, and lead. They also are more energy efficient, easier to upgrade, and easier to recycle safely.
EPEAT was developed over a two year period in an extensive multi-stakeholder process funded by EPA. The more than 50 participating stakeholders included environmental non-profit organizations, large public and private sector purchasers, major computer and component manufacturers, electronic recyclers, and others.
The three-tiered EPEAT rating system developed by EPA’s stakeholder group includes 23 required criteria and 28 optional performance criteria organized in the following eight product performance categories:
Reduction/Elimination of Environmentally Sensitive Materials
Design for End of Life
Life Cycle Extension
End of Life Management
Products meeting all 23 of the required criteria will be identified as EPEAT Bronze products. Products meeting at least 14 of the optional criteria will be listed as EPEAT Silver products, and those meeting at least 21 of the optional criteria will be designated EPEAT Gold products.
The EPEAT standard will be officially released in April 2006 when the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) releases the IEEE/ANSI 1680 Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products, including Notebook Personal Computers, Desktop Personal Computers and Personal Computer Monitors. Once the standard is released, the Green Electronics Council will begin processing applications from manufacturers to list their products on the EPEAT Web site.