Slates / Tablets and their Place in EPEAT

EPEAT users noticed a new addition to the Registry last week, as a “slates and tablets” subcategory was incorporated into the Computers & Displays category. These products became eligible for EPEAT registration when ENERGY STAR released a new version of its Computers Specification. The update specifically made slates, tablets and all-in-one computers eligible for ENERGY STAR and, thus, eligible for EPEAT.

We are pleased at Participating Manufacturers’ enthusiasm to register these new products. In less than one week more than 100 slates/tablets have been registered in EPEAT, and we expect to see many more in the weeks and months to come. These products are an exciting addition to EPEAT and an important step into reducing the environmental impacts of a major new product type. We are confident the new products are leaders in their category.

With that said, we cannot with equal enthusiasm endorse the IEEE 1680.1 standard that forms the basis for the Computers and Displays category. The standard, created in a joint and multi-stakeholder process that Green Electronics Council (GEC) endorsed, is more than eight years old.  When it was created, slates and tablets as we know them today were not yet conceived. The environmental strengths and concerns of these products were not yet known, so the existing standard does little to reward the innovation possible from an environmental point of view.

GEC has no latitude to disqualify or change standards except through their original publisher. It is clear in the case of new technologies like slates that an eight-year-old standard cannot represent true environmental leadership.

Efforts are underway at IEEE to revise the 1680.1 standard. These are long overdue. We commend and thank all stakeholders who are participating in the update process. It will be through this hard work that stakeholders can bring the standard up to the leadership level expected for all EPEAT product categories.  This will in turn empower purchasers worldwide to reward environmentally superior slates. GEC stands ready to support efforts to get an updated standard into the hands of the purchasing public as soon as possible.

Robert Frisbee
CEO, Green Electronics Council