There’s still a lot of work to do to reach a sustainable life cycle for IT products. Some of the most pressing issues include the overuse of finite natural resources, alarming amounts of e-waste as well as violations of workers’ rights and labour laws in the supply chain.
Date: February 14
Time: 17-18 CET, 11-12 US Eastern, 8-9 Pacific

Implemented in

  • Europe and Central Asia
  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • North America

Led by

Sectors of activity
Environmental Services, Consumer Goods, Public Procurement

Type of initiative
Education & Awareness Raising, Policy Frameworks & Tools

Start date

Shared by

Annika Overodder

Sustainable IT

TCO Development

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TCO Certified is the world’s most comprehensive sustainability certification for IT products, helping make responsible product choices that drive the industry in a sustainable direction. The criteria in TCO Certified go beyond industry standards and legislation and are designed to drive continual progess.
The comprehensive criteria in TCO Certified are designed to drive social and environmental sustainability throughout the product’s life cycle and revised every third year.
The criteria in TCO Certified are science-based and are developed in an open process with our international network of stakeholders that includes users, buyers, brands, manufacturers, NGOs, researchers and subject matter experts. TCO Certified is classified as a Type 1 Ecolabel and our processes and verification meet the requirements in ISO 14024.

A linear consumption model breaks our planet’s boundaries, leading to damaged ecosystems and the loss of valuable natural resources. In a circular economy, resources are handled in a more responsible way, while also maintaining their high value use. A circular approach to IT products, extending the life of IT products, products must be durable, repairable and upgradeable, making them more attractive for re-use. At the end of the product’s usable life, materials must be recyclable and possible to use in the manufacturing of new products.

TCO Certified drives the development of products that are durable, repairable and upgradeable, making them more attractive for reuse or secondary markets. Products must also be recyclable at the end of their usable life. A full chapter in the criteria document focuses on product lifetime extension.
The manufacturing of IT products is associated to a wide range of social and environmental risks. Minerals used in IT products have their origins in mining operations located in conflict affected and high-risk regions and are linked to humans rights violations such as child labor, labor abuses as well as environmental degradation. In addition, violations against human rights and labor laws occur in factories. Some examples are forced labor, extensive working hours and worker exposure to hazardous substances.


As collected through the One Planet Reporting

No activities have yet been reported under this initiative

Impact and Results

Improvements in IT factory working conditions
A case study of 16 brand owners shows improved IT factory working conditions where certified products are manufactured compared with 2013. Improvements were observed in areas such as discrimination and freedom of association. While several improvements were observed, there are frequent issues in excessive overtime in the factories, which is clearly something that will demand our continued attention moving forward.

A paradigm shift in hazardous chemicals
The new generation TCO Certified has also brought about a paradigm shift in use of hazardous chemicals in IT products. For most of the over 100 million registered chemicals, according to the American Chemical Society, the risk to human health and environment is unknown. TCO Certified now includes a new approach to hazardous chemical reduction – moving from a list of banned flame retardant chemicals to a public list of accepted, independently assessed and benchmarked flame retardants.

Proactive Industry initiatives beyond TCO Certified
Beyond compliance with TCO Certified criteria, we also carry out an annual review with brand owners to assess their additional proactive work in the field of socially responsible manufacturing. Reviews show a greater engagement in sustainability overall, but a need for more action increasing brand owner knowledge about their supply chain and investigating ways prevent future nonconformities.

Next steps and how to get involved

TCO Certified is a complete tool, ready for use, to set relevant criteria that actually challenge the IT industry. Specify the latest generation of TCO Certified in your purchasing contracts and make sure that vendors show a valid product certificate as proof of compliance.