It’s not always easy being green. There are plenty of products out there that claim to be “green” – but what exactly does that mean? Just like organic food at the grocery store, that label can be attached to a wide range of products with varying degrees of quality.
When it comes to green IT, that label is even more vague. While it’s clear that some technologies – such as server virtualization – can significantly reduce power consumption, it’s harder to figure out which specific products are greener than others. For resellers and their customers, the green IT market can be a confusing place.
But there are guidelines out there that should make this process easier. EPEAT – the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool managed by the Green Electronics Council – was developed for manufacturers and purchasers as a way of defining a “green” PC, notebook or monitor. Products are ranked on 51 environmental attributes and assigned a gold, silver or bronze ranking.
EPEAT is available to resellers that re-sell products branded by one of EPEAT’s subscribing manufacturers (though there aren’t that many resellers on board at this point). But it should be easier for them to identify environmentally friendly products, now that Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) has partnered with EPEAT – the first distributor to do so.
Ingram’s product database now includes EPEAT ratings based on the 23 required and 29 optional criteria (which include Energy Star ratings and a system for end-of-life recycling, among others). A number of manufacturers are already on board, including Apple, HP and Lenovo, which all say they’re building PCs that will meet EPEAT requirements.
The goal of EPEAT is to maximize reuse, refurbishment and recycling over disposal and incineration (and in cases of disposal and incineration, that products are sent to a legitimate facility that follows certain management practices). The export of batteries, mercury- or PCB-containing materials, circuit boards and CRTs can only be exported to OECD countries. It’s funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a cooperative agreement with the Zero Waste Alliance. Ingram’s role will be to help expand access to green IT.
While there could be a slight increase in price from some manufacturers on silver and gold products, we’re starting to see an increasing demand for green products. Under its sustainable development strategy policies for green procurement, for example, the Canadian federal government requires that PCs, notebooks and monitors commit to a nationally recognized environmental standard.
The next step will be to increase awareness of EPEAT and get as many manufacturers and purchasers on board. The distribution channel may be one of the fastest ways to do this. Ingram is a great start – let’s hope more distributors jump on the EPEAT bandwagon.