Criteria in TCO Certified

TCO Certified – from manufacturing to end of life

TCO Certified IT products have been verified to meet strict criteria in all life cycle phases of the device: from manufacturing, to use to end of life. Criteria include socially responsible manufacturing, environment as well as ergonomic design and usability. The criteria in TCO Certified are developed in collaboration with our international network of stakeholders, including users, buyers, brands, manufacturers, researchers and subject matter experts. All test and verification partners for TCO Certified are independent and accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025, the international standard for testing, sampling and calibration laboratories.

TCO Development is impartial during the certification process. Once this process is complete, the brand or manufacturer submits an application and TCO Development issues the certification for qualifying products. In addition, TCO Development carries out a quality assurance program following certification, including spot checks of products and manufacturing facilities. We also conduct regular verification rounds at each of our accredited test and verification partner sites.

Criteria development – a multi-stakeholder process

The criteria in TCO Certified are based on established research as well as an international dialog with multiple stakeholders representing users, industry, interest organizations and independent experts. The criteria levels in TCO Certified are aimed at leading the drive toward a more sustainable approach to IT products throughout the life cycle. For this reason several requirements in TCO Certified go beyond legislation or industry standards.

Using TCO Certified to choose sustainably designed and made IT products

TCO Certified makes it possible for buyers around the world to include sustainability criteria in contracts for the electronic products they buy.

Here’s how to use TCO Certified when buying IT products.

Quality Assurance – verification of product compliance

A strength of TCO Certified is the quality assurance system, which is designed to monitor continued product compliance even after certification. TCO Development carries out regular spot testing of certified products to ensure their continued compliance and also monitors that factories where certified products are made continue to implement and improve socially responsible working conditions .

Criteria overview

The criteria in TCO Certified are designed for sustainability in all phases of a product’s life: manufacturing, use and end of life handling. Products must meet all criteria in order to qualify for TCO Certified.

Criteria for all product categories focus on similar areas, but are adapted to suit the specific characteristics of each product type. TCO Certified is available for eight product categories: displays, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, desktops, all-in-one PCs, projectors and headsets.

TCO Certified Criteria- Manufacturing phase

Criteria – Manufacturing phase

  • Factory must have ISO1400 certification or EMAS registration.

Why is this important?

Having an environmental management system (EMS) in place shows that the company works in a systematic way to continuously improve the environmental performance of its operations and products. A third party certified EMS includes independent reviews to ensure continuous improvement.

Manufacturing of the product must follow:

Why is this important?

Shorter product life cycles and the constant push for new technologies has led to growing pressure on the IT industry and its complex supply chain to deliver new product models faster and at a lower cost. The result is often sub-standard working conditions in the manufacturing phase, including long working hours, low wages and unsafe work environments.

TCO Certified Criteria- Use phase

Criteria – Use phase

  • Energy efficiency – product and adapter
  • Energy Star (in product categories eligible for Energy Star – otherwise equivalent energy efficiency).

Why is this important?

Energy production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2. With an ever-increasing volume of IT equipment in use, a product’s energy efficiency is vital for reducing the climate impact of technology.

  • Visual ergonomics in products with a display. Includes criteria for resolution, luminance, contrast, color performance (for displays, notebooks, tablets).
  • Product adjustability for user comfort (displays, headsets)
  • Ergonomic keyboard design (notebooks)
  • Product supplied with a headset (smartphones)

Why is this important?

An ergonomic product is designed for user comfort. For IT products this means reducing the risk for repetitive strain problems of the eyes, neck and back, which can be caused by frequent use. Good ergonomics, such as a high quality display image, can also influence our productivity and extend the usable life of a product. So ergonomic design can also offer sustainability benefits.

  • Electrical safety
  • Minimal electromagnetic emissions.
  • Reduced allergens on product surfaces (smartphones)
  • Limits on halogenated substances
  • Acoustic noise protection against sudden sound spikes (headsets) and noise (computers, tablets and projectors)

Why is this important?

An IT product should not risk the health and safety of the user. That’s why TCO Certified includes requirements for electrical safety, low electromagnetic and chemical emissions, acoustic protection and the reduction of common allergens. We also limit the use of hazardous chemicals that can potentially leak from the product during use, collect in dust and pose health risks to the user.

  • Minimum one-year product warranty
  • Availability of spare parts for a minimum of three years after product model’s final production

Why is this important?

E-waste is currently the world’s fastest growing waste stream. It is hazardous, complex and expensive to treat in an environmentally sound manner. It is also largely unregulated. Today most e-waste is being discarded in the general waste stream, leading both to pollution and the loss of valuable resources such as precious metals. Extending the usable life of electronic products can therefore help reduce these negative environmental effects.

TCO Certified Criteria- End of life phase

Criteria – End of Life phase

Elimination or reduction of:

  • Heavy metals: cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium
  • Halogenated flame retardants (stricter than RoHS requirement)
  • Bromine and chlorine included in plastics
  • Mercury free (notebooks and tablets)
  • Non-halogenated substances

Why is this important?

Electronic devices contain hazardous substances like heavy metals and brominated flame retardants. This causes problems both in the use phase (additives can leak from the plastic and accumulate in dust, harming both our health and the environment) and at end-of-life, where uncontrolled recycling can cause the release of toxins such as dioxins and furans.

  • Brand is responsible for taking back products for recycling at end of life

Why is this important?

Every year, around 50 million tons of toxic e-waste is generated worldwide. Only about 13 percent of these discarded electronics are recycled in a responsible way*, and the export of e-waste to developing countries, where recycling is often uncontrolled and hazardous, is still too high. Increasing recycling in controlled environments is vital to lowering the environmental and health risks of IT-products at their end of life.


  • Plastics coded for easier recycling
  • Limits on different plastic types used
  • All packaging is recyclable

Why is this important?

Recycling old electronics in an environmentally sound way ensures not only that the hazardous content of the products is properly handled and not dispersed into the environment but also increases the availability of recycled material for use in new products. The use of recycled content can help conserve natural resources which would otherwise be required for virgin materials.

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Find out more about the criteria in TCO Certified

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