EPEAT. Energy Star. UL Environment. These are most, but not all, of the choices consumers have when looking for green electronics which meet some sort of ratings criteria for truly being considered “green” in some way or another (usually energy efficiency or lack of hazardous chemicals used in a product’s physical make up). Now it looks like another might be joining the already overcrowded dance floor. This one comes to you courtesy of, among others, a couple of universities and a mix of retailers and consumer electronics companies.
The Sustainability Consortium, including the universities (Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas), Best Buy, Dell, HP, Intel, Toshiba, and Wal-Mart, want to establish a system to help consumers identify “green electronics.” This system will be based upon criteria that will consider “the impacts electronics have on those who build, use and dispose of them, as well as their environmental impacts throughout their lifecycle.” The initial system findings, looking at laptops, desktops and computer displays, will be released in the third quarter of this year. The consortium, trying to avoid confusing consumers, will also look into ways “to collaborate with standards and programs with which consumers are already familiar,” such as Energy Star and EPEAT.
One rightly has to ask at this point – is yet another green electronics rating standard needed? Won’t consumers just get more confused if yet another green label appears on the side of a computer display box like so many dominoes in a row? We will have to see, but as for the CE industry, there does seem to be some buy in on this new system: “This is an effort to help them do that using a common methodology that manufacturers across the industry participate in,” said Scott O’Connell, environmental strategist, Dell, in a statement. “This is about making it easy for customers to determine what’s ‘green’ and what’s not, and we’d like to have the whole industry involved.”