More Certifications

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2008-09-25 Print this article Print


EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), applies to desktop computers, notebooks and monitors, and is designed to help buyers "evaluate, compare and select... [products]... based on their environmental attributes." EPEAT compliance is based on an IEEE standard, IEEE 1680-2006. It defines 51 criteria in eight different areas, including reduction of environmentally sensitive materials, with RoHS compliance as one of the required items in that area, and energy conservation, with Energy Star compliance as a required item.

Areas Included in EPEAT

EPEAT is notable for covering an unusually wide range of issues. Just to give a sense of that range, here's a list of the six areas beyond the two already mentioned, with an example of each: materials selection (requires a declaration of post-consumer recycled plastic); design for end of life (requires a minimum of 65 percent of reusable and recyclable materials); product longevity and life extension (requires upgradability with "common tools"); end of life management (requires a product take-back service), corporate performance (requires an environmental management system for design and manufacturing organizations); and packaging (requires separable packing materials).

If nothing else, this list of areas EPEAT covers should at least give a sense of its comprehensiveness.

EPEAT Rankings

One other key bit of information about EPEAT is that there are three levels of EPEAT ratings. EPEAT Bronze means the product meets all 23 of the required criteria. Silver means it meets all 23 plus at least 50 percent of the optional criteria, for a minimum total of 37 out of 51. Gold means it meets all required criteria plus at least 75 percent of the optional criteria, or at least 44 of 51.


Variously pronounced row-hoss, R-O-H-S, ross, rowsse, rosh, or rose, RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) is the EU's directive for the restriction of the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. Basically, an RoHS-compliant product meets the EU's limits on levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and other substances that you don't want dumped into the environment.

About RoHS

It's important to know that being RoHS-compliant doesn't necessarily mean that a given product has none of the hazardous substances covered by the directive. In addition to exemptions for specific uses that don't currently have any alternatives, there are also permissible maximums "which allow for any trace presence." Before you send a product off to a landfill at the end of its useful life, make sure it really doesn't have any hazardous substances, RoHS-compliant or not.

Blue Angel

The Blue Angel eco-label, a German certification, has a 30-year history, with the certification being awarded to products ranging from abrasives to wall paint. Monitors, printers, desktop computers, notebooks and even paper for printing can all qualify. The requirements for Blue Angel depend on the category. For monitors, for example, the Basic Award criteria include ergonomic design, good recyclability and a lack of pollutants in the plastic casing. For printers, the criteria include low energy consumption, low noise levels and the ability to use recycled paper.


M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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