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Buy an EPEAT computer

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Get into a competitive spirit with an EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Bronze, Silver, or Gold-rated computer or monitor. These models have been rated against 51 different environmental criteria (based on company self-assessments), giving them higher marks for recycled content, limited toxicity, and take-back programs.

Find it! EPEAT computers

All EPEAT computers and parts can be found in the EPEAT database, but to give you an idea of what’s available, check out these eco-electronic options. Oh, and don’t worry about price—EPEAT products should not cost more than other options.

Before you buy

The EPEAT program was originally designed to assist large-volume computer purchasers with the procurement of green electronics. Although many of the products are available to individual consumers, you should know that some of the environmental criteria may not be available except through corporate purchasing departments.

Buying an EPEAT computer helps you go green because…

  • EPEAT restricts the use of harmful chemicals, energy consumption, and packaging, and encourages companies to establish recycling and take-back programs for used machines.

EPEAT was developed using a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency with the help of the Zero Waste Alliance as a way to measure and report the eco-friendliness of desktop computers, laptops, and monitors (although product offerings may expand in the future). It is managed and directed by the Green Electronics Council and is part of the International Sustainable Development Foundation.

Manufacturers wishing to have their products rated by EPEAT must sign an agreement with EPEAT requiring them to make only accurate declarations about their products. They then self-assess each product on the groups of criteria. Those meeting the 23 required criteria receive Bronze status, while those with the first 23 plus 14 of the optional criteria receive Silver. Add another 7 optional criteria and you’ve got a Gold-rated machine.

  • Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials (including compliance with RoHS): Cadmium, mercury, lead, hexavalent chromium, flame retardants, and polyvinyl chloride.
  • Materials selection: Products should include certain levels of recycled plastic and bio-based plastics.
  • Design for end of life: Machines should be made to be easily disassembled and at least 65 percent recyclable.
  • Product longevity/life cycle extension: Should have extended warranties and be upgradeable.
  • Energy conservation: All units must meet ENERGY STAR standards.
  • End of life management: Company should provide take-back service for computer and batteries.
  • Corporate performance: Company should have an active environmental policy and be seeking third-party certification for environmental management.
  • Packaging: Should be limited, contain recycled content, and be recyclable.

According to EPEAT, the purchase of products rated by their system should result in savings of 13.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity (enough for 1.2 million US homes for a year), 24.4 million metric tons of primary materials, and 41,100 metric tons of hazardous waste. Additional benefits include the prevention of 56.5 million metric tons of air emissions, 1.07 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and 118,000 metric tons of water pollutant emissions.[1]

Related legislation

The US isn't the only country making strides toward less-toxic electronics. In fact, in many respects, they lag behind other national bodies, especially the EU. Following are two electronics legislations that, although not officially adopted by the US, will affect products arriving on her doorstep.


In 2006, the European Union passed its Restrictions on Hazardous Substances (RoHS), which established standards for the amount of lead, mercury, and other toxic substances in electronics. This directive immediately impacted the Palm Treo 650 smartphone, which did not meet requirements. (Palm has since promised to sell a new smartphone that complies with the EU standards.)

Japan also complies with the EU's standards, and although the United States has yet to pass nationwide restrictions, certain states have passed their own directives. In January 2007, California outlawed the sale of most electronics that didn't meet certain EU standards on toxics.

WEEE Directive

The European Union adopted the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive in February of 2003. This directive imposes responsibility for e-recycling on the manufacturers so that consumers can more easily return used machines and parts. In an effort to meet both WEEE and RoHS regulations, many electronics companies are working toward compliance for all of their products. As a result, although WEEE and RoHS are not enforced in the US, many individual products meeting their criteria are becoming available to American consumers.

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