IEC TR 63212 pdf – Harmonization of environmental performance criteria for electrical and electronic products – Feasibility study
By getting certified to one or more of the ecolabel programmes and, with manufacturers committing to reduce the targeted environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of the products, products can benefit by differentiating themselves from similar products which do not adhere to such ecolabel requirements. For EEE products, the intent of the various ecolabel programmes is to accomplish one or more of the following improvements in the environment:
• Energy conservation/low or less energy consumption: EEE products bearing an ecolabel consume less energy during their use than similar products in the market that do not bear an ecolabel.
• Avoidance/reduction of materials hazardous to the environment: EEE products bearing an ecolabel have to meet strict criteria for the reduction of hazardous substances used in their components, their package and during their manufacture, to avoid harm to the environment or human health.
• Material efficiency/conservation: EEE products bearing an ecolabel use less non-renewable resources by improving design for recyclability or by using recycled materials. Improvement of product durability/longevity: EEE products bearing an ecolabel are designed to be repairable and upgradable, and to be supplied with spare parts and consumables, hence they could be used for a longer time.
• Relatively low emissions and waste: EEE products bearing an ecolabel are required to generate low emissions to the water and air, to limit noise emissions and to produce less solid waste in their end-of-life. Most ecolabel programmes which exist for EEE are for office equipment (e.g. printers), ICT equipment (e.g. computers), consumer products (e.g. home theatre), and household appliances (e.g. washing machines).
4.1.2 Economic benefits Governments, businesses and consumers have been raising their concern on the environmental impacts of products and, because of this, to bear an ecolabel could be a market advantage for a product. For instance, governments often adopt ecolabel requirements as a tool for encouraging environmental practices through “green procurement”. In such cases, an ecolabel could be a vital aspect to open up new public business. Likewise, when consumers are consciously looking for products that pose less impact on the environment, a visible and widely- recognized ecolabel could give them more confidence and encouragement in the purchase choice. NOTE The term “green procurement” is used by organizations (especially governments) to describe their purchasing policies and practices of reducing environmental impacts of product procurement.
4.2 Problem definition and reason to perform this study As mentioned earlier, over 80 ecolabels applying to EEE currently exist. Although the ecolabels represent environmental and economic benefits for manufacturers and the users of products, they may also represent a burden because of their large number, diversity, and sometimes, conflicting requirements. Manufacturers often face requirements for certification in accordance with multiple ecolabel programmes, sometimes even within a single country/region. This can represent significant costs, sometimes with limited revenue opportunity. Ecolabel standards can potentially also lead to diverging design requirements or contain unnecessary differences that create design or verification conflicts. Consumers and governments are faced with a broad variety of products claiming a better performance in some environmental aspects and bearing different ecolabels for which they do not understand the meaning.
Likewise, each ecolabel operator is faced with significant costs and burden to develop basic criteria addressed in such schemes. This represents n-times duplication of similar work in each of the 80 schemes. The study presented in this document is carried out to compare and analyse a selected number of such ecolabel programmes, and to provide recommendations, including a concept proposal on a possible international standard, on the potential for harmonization of environmental criteria. Ecolabel programmes are typically operated as voluntary initiatives, although some programmes may be referenced in Green Public Procurement (GPP) requirements of a country or region. The study for this document was carried out holding a neutral position to such voluntary initiatives of any ecolabel scheme and not intending to be related to any regulatory scheme.