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Technology Today - IT Sellers Should Eliminate Greenwash and False Product Claims

Technology Today

TCO Development, the organisation behind the sustainability certification for IT products TCO Certified, has released a new report ‘Navigating the Sustainable IT Revolution – The critical role of independent verification’. As India accelerates towards digitisation, there is a growing need for that progress to be socially and environmentally sustainable. The purchase of computers, mobile devices and other Information Technology (IT) products are essential; however, it involves several sustainability risks. The report helps IT procurement teams worldwide accurately verify the social and environmental aspects of their purchases.  

In a global study of online environmental claims, 40% were found to be false or misleading. To avoid greenwash and false product claims, transparency and verification are key to validating an organization’s sustainable procurement efforts, and ultimately, their reputation. This year’s report takes a critical look at what purchasers need to do to avoid greenwash – and the tools available to reduce reliance on false claims. The report offers insights based on the experience with TCO Certified, along with expert voices from policy officials, NGOs, scientists, factory auditors, product testing, and procurement.

“With our Impacts and Insights report we want to give purchasers the insights for avoiding the common risks of relying on greenwash and false product claims. Getting proof of what’s actually happening in the IT supply chain gives any organisation the confidence to stand behind their sustainability efforts.”

--Clare Hobby, Director Purchaser Engagement, Global, TCO Development

The report highlights three key elements for IT purchasers to focus on - 

The IT supply chain – It is near impossible for a single organization to manage the many sustainability risks in IT procurement by themselves. To avoid contributing to serious issues such as harmful emissions, labor law violations or other health and safety risks for workers, traditional aspects such as price and performance must be balanced with environmental and social risk.

Independent proof needed to avoid false claims in procurement – Best practice in procurement means proving all sustainability claims and this places new demands on purchasers. Even the strictest sustainability criteria fall flat if there is no system in place to independently verify and monitor sustainability progress. Specifying ecolabels that have all these systems in place is a good place to start.

Choosing tools that can prove compliance and impact – Ecolabels provide purchasers with a simple approach of incorporating sustainable aspects in a wide range of product categories. However, many purchasers point to the overload of choice and comparing ecolabels can be confusing. Hence, they must choose ecolabels which have up-to-date criteria, mandatory independent verification, and a system of accountability. The most robust ecolabels or certifications ensure proven sustainability progress and continuous criteria compliance for the entire life of the certificate granted.

Ecolabels and certifications can make sustainable procurement a lot easier. However, the market for ecolabels is both extensive and varied. While some include a robust system of verification, follow up and accountability, others base product compliance on self-declarations and unverified product claims. Purchasers do not need to know everything themselves to be strategic and successful in sustainable IT procurement. Robust IT certifications and ecolabels do all the heavy lifting for purchasers, so they stay ahead even when legislation is lagging. 

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