In the age of rapid technological advancements, it is important to understand the relationship between technology and the supply chain. Information technology (IT) products — including computers, phones, and other devices — rely on highly intensive production processes, consume energy during product use, and require complicated end-of-life management. Negative social impacts within the IT supply chain have also been well documented. Reducing organizational demand for new electronics (e.g., by extending product replacement cycles) is the best first step to minimizing impacts. When purchasing electronics, opting for sustainable IT goods and services allows purchasers to reduce their impacts on the supply chain across the entire lifecycle of a product.
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State contract specifications
- Computers, monitors, and multifunction devices:
- The Minnesota Buy.IT Standards Program managed by MN.IT (the IT agency for Minnesota’s Executive Branch), requires EPEAT registration for all computers, monitors, and multifunction devices.
- Contract release C-1046 (Computers — desktops, laptops, tablets, monitors, accessories, & services) requires computers and displays be EPEAT Bronze registered or better.
- Contract release C-1005 (Multifunction devices — combined copier, printer, scanners) requires devices be EPEAT Bronze registered or better.
- Audio-visual products: Vendors on contract release A-203 may offer products that are ENERGY STAR, EPEAT, or TCO Certified. State agencies should purchase these products when available.
- Coming soon: Wireless devices and services.
- EPEAT is a product registry system that helps purchasers select high-performance electronic products that meet sustainability criteria. Product categories covered by EPEAT include servers, computers and displays, imaging equipment, mobile phones, and TVs.
- TCO certified maintains a comprehensive sustainability certification for IT products, helping purchasers make responsible product choices that drive the industry in a sustainable direction. They also provide a TCO-certified sustainable product database for wireless phones and smartphones, as well as other tech products.
- The ENERGY STAR program created a calculator to estimate savings by purchasing sustainable office equipment.
- The EPA’s Federal Electronics Challenge provides guidance and resources for choosing Responsible Recycling (R2) electronic waste recyclers to ensure a high standard of environmental and worker health during end-of-life management.
- The Green Electronics Council offers purchaser guidance on procuring sustainable IT products and services, including cloud computing services.
- Electronics Watch is a resource for social sustainability and responsibility in public procurement of electronics.
- The MPCA released a report on Procured Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Climate Impacts and Procurement Recommendations developed through an EPA grant.