Sustainable lifecycle for IT products has some serious obstacles - overuse of natural resources, alarming amounts of e-waste, violations of workers’ rights and labour laws in the supply chain.
14 February 2020
  • Consumer Information for SCP
  • Sustainable Public Procurement
sustainable life cycle for IT products

DATE: February 14

TIME: 17-18 CET, 11-12 US Eastern, 8-9 Pacific

RECORDING: You can access the webinar here.

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.


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 retardant

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.

Unsplash - Radek Grzybowski

  • Consumer Information for SCP
  • Sustainable Public Procurement
Certification, Innovation, Procurement