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ASU helps consumers identify 'green' electronics


January 21, 2010

The Sustainability Consortium, along with leaders in the manufacturing and sales of consumer electronics, announced plans to establish a system that includes social and environmental considerations in helping consumers identify “green” electronics. The Sustainability Consortium is co-administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas.

Working with Best Buy, Dell, HP, Intel, Toshiba and Wal-Mart, the consortium will research and publish findings on the life cycle environmental and social impacts of electronic products. These findings will be used to support efforts to identify products as sustainable or “green.” This type of information is designed to reduce consumer confusion and help standardize product claims.

“Customers tell us they want to purchase electronics that have minimal impact on our planet," said Scott O’Connell, environmental strategist for Dell. "This is an effort to help them do that using a common methodology that manufacturers across the industry participate in. This is about making it easy for customers to determine what’s ‘green’ and what’s not, and we’d like to have the whole industry involved.”

In developing the criteria, the consortium will consider the impacts electronics have on those who build, use and dispose of them, as well as their environmental impacts throughout their life cycle. It also is investigating how to collaborate with standards and programs with which consumers already are familiar, such as EPEAT® (the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) and ENERGY STAR®, and standards set forth by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition.

“Developing additional detailed information on the life cycle impacts of electronics will not only help our customers make educated buying decisions, but assist companies to make clear, pointed product sustainability claims,” said Engelina Jaspers, vice president of environmental sustainability for HP. “Reaching uniformity in communicating sustainability claims will be a decision made in the name of consistency, transparency, and simplicity and will benefit all involved.”

The consortium will release initial results of its work in the third quarter of 2010.

“Our initial work is focused on criteria for laptops, desktops and monitors,” said Dr. Kevin Dooley of the Sustainability Consortium and a professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “We plan to expand the project to a broader set of electronic goods later in the year, when additional manufacturers and suppliers will be recruited to the project.”

“Best Buy recognizes that we have an obligation to provide customers with products and solutions that help them move toward an increasingly sustainable future,” said Mary Capozzi, senior director of corporate responsibility for Best Buy.  “As we make it easier for customers to choose more sustainable products, demand for them will increase and provide manufacturers with an incentive to make products that are more environmentally and socially responsible.”

About the Sustainability Consortium
The Sustainability Consortium is an independent organization of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. It develops transparent methodologies, tools and strategies to drive a new generation of products and supply networks that address environmental, social and economic imperatives. The Sustainability Consortium advocates for a transparent process and system, not individuals or organizations. The Sustainability Consortium is jointly administered by Arizona State University’s and the University of Arkansas. 

Learn more at www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

The Sustainability Consortium is a part of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU); and the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas.

The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives and home to the first of its kind School of Sustainability; it works to advance research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world (http://sustainability.asu.edu).

The Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas leads organizations in the retail and consumer goods industries toward sustainable practices that support an economy built around people, planet, and profit. The center is part of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and serves multiple disciplines across campus (http://asc.uark.edu).