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Greenwash, false claim risks high amongst IT - report

By Shannon Williams, Wed 16 Jun 21

A new report has been released designed to help IT buyers avoid greenwash and false claims regarding the social and environmental aspects of their purchases.

TCO Development has launched the new report Navigating the Sustainable IT Revolution The critical role of independent verification. It says in complex product categories such as IT, social and environmental risks run high. 

"The millions of workers in the supply chain often face poverty wages, dangerous and unsafe working conditions, and stand without social protections," says Parul Sharma, chief executive officer of the Academy for Human Rights in Business, who has contributed to the report.

"This has clearly been identified within electronics and IT," he says.

"In a global study of online environmental claims, 40 % were found to be false or misleading. To avoid greenwash and false product claims, transparency and verification are key to validating your organisations sustainable procurement efforts, and ultimately, your reputation," Sharma says.

Jonathan Rivin, Materials Evaluation Specialist, at Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, explains the importance of strategic IT procurement for the State of Oregon.

"IT purchases are one of the largest categories of state, local government, and public institutional spending. Therefore, supply chain impacts can be significant and affect later stages of the life cycle," he says. 

"Improving sustainability practices along the supply chain reduces the potential for supply chain disruption and increases resiliency."

This year's Impacts and Insights report takes a critical look at what purchasers need to do to avoid greenwash and the tools available to reduce reliance on false claims. The report offers insights based on the experience with TCO Certified, along with expert voices from policy officials, NGOs, scientists, factory auditors, product testing, and procurement.

"It is critical that organisations get independent proof of environmental and supply chain impacts connected to the products they source," says Clare Hobby, director purchaser engagement, global at TCO Development.

"Reputations, stakeholder credibility and accuracy are on the line more than ever," she says. 

"With our Impacts and Insights report we want to give purchasers the tools for avoiding the common risks of relying on greenwash and false product claims," Hobby adds.

"Getting proof of whats actually happening in the IT supply chain gives any organisation the confidence to stand behind their sustainability efforts."

TCO is the organisation behind the sustainability certification for IT products, TCO Certified. Its comprehensive criteria are designed to drive social and environmental responsibility throughout the product life cycle. Covering 11 product categories including displays, computers and mobile devices, compliance is independently verified, both pre and post certification.

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