IT firms lack green measurement

18 May 2010

18 May 2010 | Lindsay Clark

Sustainable IT procurement is hampered because nearly 80 per cent of IT products have no green measurement or accreditation, a technology services firm has claimed.

Probrand looked at 150,000 IT products from 110 vendors covering 22 different product categories, and found that only 22 per cent had any official environmental standard. Of those with some form of accreditation, the largest number (42 per cent) were desktops computers and servers, followed by notebooks, monitors and then printers.  

The research has also highlighted that there is no single standard associated with sustainability and existing measures are inconsistent in their approaches.

While all are credible in their own right, Germany’s Blue Angel ecolabelling, EPEAT, a system that helps buyers evaluate the environmental attributes of electronics, and the UK’s Government Buying Standards, formerly known as ‘Quick Wins’, each inconsistently consider and weight credentials such as documentation on recycled paper, chlorine free packaging, halogen free cables, energy consumption, the research said.

However, Energy Star - a US government-backed programme to help businesses and individuals improve energy efficiency - does feature as a standard in other labelling schemes.

Probrand found few suppliers consider the lifecycle of the product or the impact of the supply chain through which a product is delivered. This is becoming increasingly critical in assessing a product’s overall sustainability and application within globally responsible business.

Gary Price, business analyst at Probrand, said: “Business is under pressure to green IT at the same time as acknowledging that greener IT is an operational cash saver.  There is motivation for adoption. However, our research has perhaps unearthed a three-sided barrier to swift adoption. Not enough products have a ‘green’ accreditation and of those that do it is very challenging to compare between products or benchmark.

“There is no consistent industry measure for sustainability… and little understanding. Furthermore, of the green-related product information that does exist, it is rarely provided to the IT buyer in an easy to digest fashion.”  

There is little hope of adoption of genuinely sustainable IT without this, Price said.

He called on governments to incentivise manufacturers to adopt consistent environmental due diligence standards. Many manufacturers exceeded green production measures, but were not assessed, he added.

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