Computers, tablets and other IT products we use daily contain chemicals that are in many cases harmful to people and the environment. For instance, flame-retardants in plastics prevent the product from catching fire and phthalates are used to soften the insulation of the cables.
Halogenated flame-retardants and phthalates have been identified as hormone disruptors and to be persistent in the natural environment. For instance, flame-retardants have been found in human breast milk, polar bears and other wildlife.
While many of the most dangerous of these have been phased out by legislation and voluntary initiatives, too little is known about the chemicals used to replace them. Of the 84,000 chemicals on the market today, only about 1 percent of them have been studied for safety.
This is one of the main challenges we face today: the lack of information about safer chemical options. The criteria in TCO Certified are aimed at closing that gap.
New criteria in TCO Certified require manufacturers to test and declare non-halogenated flame retardants used in certified products, so that we can make sure that safer alternatives are being used. Specific phthalates are also banned as part of the criteria, which are based on the Green Screen for Safer Chemicals hazard assessment tool and independently verified for compliance. In this way, we are able to verify a shift to safer alternatives and further drive sustainable development of IT products.
Want to learn more?
Watch our on-demand webinars about chemicals and their sustainability implications in IT products.
Introduction to Green Screen for Safer Chemicals – presentation by Dr Mark Rossi at the TCO Development Sustainable IT Summit, November 2015.
Toxics in IT Products – Presentation by Dr Marlene Ågerstrand, Stockholm University and Niclas Rydell, TCO Development. February 2016.