The Green Electronics Council uses a “declare and verify” system to govern the addition of products to EPEAT. To register products in EPEAT, manufacturers must sign a contract requiring them to accurately declare that their products meet system criteria. Product declarations are not pre-certified, but manufacturers must possess and produce evidence to support all declarations (as specified in the relevant standard) upon request by the Green Electronics Council and/or their Conformity Assurance Body.
This system, designed by the EPEAT system’s original stakeholders, addresses the unique characteristics of the electronic products marketplace. Electronics experience very high rates of change in components and sourcing from product launch through the end of their commercial lives. Given this tremendous variability, pre-certification based on a one-time investigation before a product is released is fundamentally inadequate.
Rigorous and Independent Validation
The EPEAT system uses rigorous and transparent post-declaration verification procedures. The Green Electronics Council helps ensure compliance by regularly selecting products and criteria from the EPEAT Registry at random and instructing CABs to verify that their clients’ chosen products meet the selected criteria as declared. The process includes unannounced, in-depth investigations and public exposure in all cases of nonconformance. All incidents are published in verification reports that include both manufacturer and product names. The system is designed to make non-conformance publicly embarrassing and to maintain the constant likelihood of investigation at any time.
Investigations include both targeted and random selections of products on an ongoing basis to ensure they meet the criteria declared by their manufacturers. All Participating Manufacturers can expect to have multiple products investigated each year. The verification process may require a manufacturer to provide production reports, lab analysis or other data, or CABs may independently obtain products and subject them to detailed laboratory analysis or destructive disassembly.
In addition to verifying product claims, any criteria thought to have an especially significant environmental impact, are particularly challenging to meet, or have been the subject of questions or concerns expressed by stakeholders are also subject to verification.
Verification investigations are carried out by a global network of Conformity Assurance Bodies (CABs) using expert and independent Auditors. A Conformity Decision Panel (CDP) — comprised of independent experts on electronics and the environment who are blind to the identity of the companies and products involved — then reviews investigation findings (as well as any appeals filed by the manufacturer) to determine a conformity decision.
When the committee identifies an incidence of nonconformance, the manufacturer is required to correct the declaration.
Verification Guidance and Conformity Assessment Protocols
The Conformity Assessment Protocols provide a detailed review of each criterion included in the standards implemented in EPEAT. In addition, all Interpretations and Clarifications that have been issued by the CDP or the IEEE Environmental Assessment Standards Committee regarding the language of the criterion, specific measures for demonstrating conformity and alternate approaches to supporting the accuracy of a declaration are available for review and download.
EPEAT Conformity Assessment Protocols guide Auditors during verification investigations of EPEAT-registered products. They also help Participating Manufacturers understand the expectations of the EPEAT system for assessing and demonstrating conformance.
Protocols are available to all Participating Manufacturers and CABs on their “My Account” Dashboard after they log in, under the “Tools” header. If you are not with a Participating Manufacturer or CAB but have purchased a copy of an environmental standard and would like to access the protocols for that standard, please contact us to learn more.