October 01, 2008, 3:25 PM — Currently the U.S. doesnâ€™t have a national law governing e-waste. As politicians try to pass legislation, many efforts simply "run out of gas." Thankfully, lack of consistent federal legislation doesn't mean that action hasn't already been taken.
One initiative, devised at the state level, is a major step in the right direction. It is called the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). EPEAT was developed by the Green Electronics Council in Portland, Oregon to help institutional purchasers evaluate, compare, and select PCs, laptops, and monitors based on their environmental attributes. Electronics can be awarded a gold, silver, or bronze certification, based on how well they meet 51 criteria, including ease of disassembly, chemical content, end-of-life design. Products must meet at least 23 of the criteria for the bronze-level certification.
One of the neat things about this initiative is that the federal government is moving forward with a plan requiring federal agencies to buy PCs and monitors that are energy efficient and have reduced levels of toxic chemicals and the policy leverages EPEAT. In December 2007, the Department of Defense, NASA, and the General Services Administration outlined a rule that requires purchases to be compliant with EPEAT certification levels. So although the federal government hasnâ€™t passed any Green IT laws, it is moving forward on rules that apply to itself. And because of the governmentâ€™s sheer buying power (it buys about 2.2 million PCs per year), business is likely to follow suit.
At this point, only a handful of vendors have earned gold EPEAT ratings. Dell has six products with gold ratings and 72 at the silver level. HP has one gold-rated PC and 73 silver. Apple has 17 products meeting silver requirements. Naturally, these numbers are moving targets. While these numbers were true at the time of writing, itâ€™s likely that manufacturers are going to step up their EPEAT-certified machines.
We cover this topic and many more in the book Green IT: Reduce Your Information System's Environmental Impact While Adding to the Bottom Line which is available in select bookstores stores and at your favorite online book retailers.