Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool EPEAT

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) gages the environmental impact of purchasing a product. EPEAT was created by the Zero Waste Alliance (www.zerowaste.org) through funding provided by the U.S. EPA; it is currently administered by the Green Electronics Council (www.greenelectronicscouncil.org).

EPEAT is the result of advice from manufactures, buyers, and environmental groups. The goal was to examine computers, notebook computers, and monitor from initial design through to final disposal, including all points in between. This includes the equipment's manufacture, shipment, installation, use, decommissioning and, finally, recycling. EPEAT measurements meet or exceed all known U.S. and international environmental statutes. An advantage is that equipment that meets EPEAT criteria will also comply with most international export criteria, such as the EU's RoHs (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive).

EPEAT examines a product in eight different categories and against 51 different criteria. This holistic approach provides concerned purchasers with a "score" for how environmentally friendly something is.

EPEAT ratings are based on the manufacturer's self-declaration of equipment conformance to the standard. The standard details are what to measure and how to measure it. These claims are randomly audited.

EPEAT benefits both buyers and manufacturers. It provides manufacturers with a well-recognized standard to use when designing new products. It results in fairer competition because everyone knows in advance how their product will be measured and how it stacks up against the competition. EPEAT also benefits society, as it identifies weaknesses in a manufacturer's products for improvement. It is also an indicator that products will meet EU environmental standards.

Purchasers like EPEAT, particularly since they lack the technical expertise and time to examine so many products. The EPEAT rating not only indicates what criteria the product meets, but which ones it does not. When soliciting equipment bids, purchasers should require that all equipment be certified as EPEAT Bronze level or higher. Companies seeking to improve their "green credentials" can purchase equipment with EPEAT Silver or Gold ratings. Individual buyers benefit since it provides them with an environmental friendliness rating system for their personal purchases.

EPEAT is an ANSI approved standard and has been adopted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) as standard number 1680 (Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products). For the full details about each criteria, measurement processes, and other data, manufacturers should purchase a copy of this standard. This will ensure that a self-declaration of an EPEAT rating for a product will survive an audit. For the latest information on EPEAT, check out www.epeat.net.

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