5 Tips for Buying Sustainable IT Products
Will you be writing RFPs for computers or printers in the next 3-6 months but are unsure of what sustainability criteria to evaluate? Do you have trouble understanding if your IT purchases are in fact the most sustainable options?
On November 5, 2020, members of the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) learn how to improve the social and environmental impact of their IT purchasing from expert speakers Clare Hobby, Director Purchaser Engagement at TCO Certified, and Frances Edmonds, Head of Sustainable Impact at HP Canada.
Find below a summary of tips to apply when purchasing IT materials for your organization.
1. Leverage independently verified certifications to avoid greenwashing
Leverage certifications like TCO Certified, which independently verifies the environmental, ethical and social sustainability of computers, displays, mobile devices, and 5 other IT hardware categories.
Certifications do the hard work for you. TCO Development spent 200,000+ hours on verifying and certifying 3500+ models and 27 brands in 2019 alone—representing a total of 100+ million certified devices.
2. Ask IT companies to disclose their sustainability impact
According to TCO Certified’s Impacts and Insights Report on Circular IT Management in Practice, 86.6% of all emissions related to notebooks (or laptops) are associated with manufacturing and transportation so don’t stop at evaluating the product’s sustainability performance (see left). Assure that vendors are being transparent about their operational sustainability. Ask for an EcoVadis assessment, CDP scores, proof of material sourcing, and the like.
See examples of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) scoring of IT companies based on their water-, forest-, and climate-related performance.
3. Extend the IT product’s lifecycle
E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing waste stream with over 50 million metric tonnes generated annually and only 20% of the stream safely recycled. Avoid buying new if you can! Extend the lifecycle of your devices by ensuring products are highly durable, have standardized connectors, can be easily repaired, come with strong warranties, and ensure data can be easily wiped for reuse.
When possible, buy a service rather than a product. Suppliers then become responsible for repairing, reusing, and recycling the product!
4. Ask for post-consumer recycled content
When a sample of CCSP members were polled in the webinar, only 8% stated they asked for recycled content in their IT RFPs. The average percentage of post-recycled plastics in IT is 0-3%. Procurement can signal to suppliers to do more by asking about post-consumer recycled content, reducing plastics in our landfills, oceans, natural environment, and perhaps even our bodies. It is possible! In 2020, HP announced it aims to increase its use of recycled plastics from 9% now to 30% by 2025.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel
There are tons of resources out there to help you along the way! Here are a few to get started:
- TCO Purchaser Guide
- WWF & HP Buying Responsibly Guide
- HP’s Sustainable IT Purchasing Guide
- Impacts and Insights Report – Circular IT Management in Practice
- HP’s Carbon Footprint Calculator
WRITTEN BY: ALYSSA MCDONALD, PROGRAM MANAGER AT THE CANADIAN COLLABORATION FOR SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT (CCSP)