New Year, new start, new leaf – new blog!
What are we to make of the news from Green Biz that corporate sustainability efforts seemed to languish a bit in 2011? Despite its obvious negative side – that progress on new initiatives slowed due to other pressures in a recessionary economy – this news seems to also have a potential bright side. It implies that much of what would have been considered ground breaking or innovative a few years ago has now become ordinary, or even run-of-the-mill.
For example, as the Green Biz report notes, the EPEAT registry grew significantly – from 2800 plus in January 2011 to over 3500 unique products registered today (with multiple registrations of those products across the 41 countries in the system). And the number of Gold product registrations soared as well. Nearly half of today’s more than 18,000 total country-specific EPEAT product registrations are at Gold level – meaning the registered products met more than 75% of EPEAT’s optional criteria.
First, that indicates that OEMs like to highlight their best environmental performers by registering them very broadly. But it also suggests that EPEAT Gold is becoming ‘too easy’ for manufacturers to reach. If the best practices that enable OEMs to meet EPEAT’s optional criteria have become business as usual, the bar needs to be raised to support ongoing improvement and reward innovation. And in fact the process of updating the PC and Display standard has already begun, with key stakeholders digging into discussion of updates to IEEE 1680.1 to complement the projected publication this year of new standards for TVs and Imaging Equipment (printers, copiers, etc.).
But let’s also pay attention to the positive side of this reality – in five years, environmental leadership criteria that were once considered insurmountable challenges have become so achievable that a significant proportion of electronics produced and sold around the world can meet them. That’s the leadership process EPEAT was designed to reward, and it’s an enormous win — for the global environment, and for all of us doing our best to purchase more environmentally sustainable products.