EPEAT Certification | Introduction to Environmental Electronics Manufacturing

August 28, 2019 Cadence PCB Solutions

Pair of robot eyes looking up over a green background

 

Humans no longer live on the WALL-E 29th century version of Earth. An almost wicked combination of consumer glee and environmental forgetfulness has left Earth covered and filled with trash. Only a Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth-class robotic version of our trash compactors remains after seven centuries.

While the movie sometimes reminds me of my kid-friendly basement, it delivers a powerful message. Sustainability and environmentalism begin now. Otherwise, we may soon rocket off into space to become obese versions of ourselves on giant star liners.

It’s EPEAT, I Repeat, It’s EPEAT

In the electronics industry, we actually have a tool that helps us achieve sustainability. Managed by the non-profit Green Electronics Council (GEC), the Electronic Product Assessment Tool (EPEAT) serves as the leading global ecolabel for information technologies.

Large-scale institutional purchasers—including universities, hospitals, government agencies, and corporations--can use this resource to select sustainable equipment. Specified under the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), NSF International, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the equipment includes laptops, televisions, mobile phones, PCs, servers, imaging equipment, and monitors from manufacturers.

 

Standard

Description

IEEE 1680.1-2018

Establishes environmental and social responsibility performance criteria for the design of displays, notebook computers, desktop computers, tablets, small-scale servers, thin clients, and workstations

IEEE 1680.2a-2017

Establishes environmental performance criteria for the design of imaging equipment

IEEE 1680.3-2012

Establishes environmental performance criteria for the design of televisions

UL 110

Establishes multiple attribute sustainability criteria for mobile phones includes materials, manufacturing, energy efficiency of the external power supply, packaging, all components shipped with a mobile phone, and end-of-life management

NSF/ANSI 426-2018

Establishes environmental leadership and corporate social responsibility assessments of servers

 

Materials and Sustainability: Process, Process, and More Process

The EPEAT process begins with the payment of fees and an officer of a company signing the Green Electronics Council EPEAT license and the Participating Manufacturer Agreement. A wide range of globally based electronic manufacturers register their produces based on compliance with EPEAT required and optional criteria. Manufacturers complete information about how their products comply with the:

  • Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials

  • Materials selection benchmarks

  • Design for end of life criteria

  • Product longevity/life-cycle extension criteria

  • Energy conservation criteria

  • End of life management benchmarks

  • Corporate performance standards, and

  • Packaging criteria.

 

Using the criteria as a basis, EPEAT applies gold, silver, and bronze ratings to registered products. EPEAT includes an online registry that lists the products, product ratings, and the product manufacturers.

 

Gold Rating

Silver Rating

Bronze Rating

Product meets all required criteria and a minimum of 75% of optional criteria.

Product meets all required criteria and a minimum of 50% of all optional criteria.

Product meets all required criteria but no optional criteria.

 

In addition, EPEAT independently verifies manufacturer claims about the sustainability of their products. Qualified Conformity Assurance Bodies (CAB) check for compliance. Manufacturers participating in the EPEAT program can request assistance from a CAB to ensure the accuracy of their information, navigate the EPEAT system, and register their products.

The CAB includes TuV Rheinland, DEKRA, Intertek, UL Environment, and the VDE Institute. Depending on the type of the product, one of the Conformity Assurance Bodies conducts a set of comprehensive review processes that cover all the registration materials and includes manufacturer responses to verification questions. If a product does not comply with the EPEAT criteria, the Assurance Bodies publicly announce the non-compliance and remove the product from the online registry.

As a result of this verification, the institutional purchasers can build their procurement programs around the EPEAT information. The EPEAT online registry allows prospective purchasers to search for an electronics product based on category, manufacturer, geography, or EPEAT rating. If an institutional purchaser wishes to drill down through the information, procurement staff can search by specific attributes such as recyclability, the use of recycled materials in the product, or the amount of toxic materials.

Electronics Sustainability Translates into Tangible Benefits

The key take-away from the EPEAT program is the reduced environmental impact of electronic products. Through EPEAT, manufacturers have taken a proactive approach to conserve energy and reduce or eliminate toxic materials from their products. Since 2006, EPEAT has impacted 1.32 billion electronic products and—when compared to products that do not meet the EPEAT criteria--achieved the:

  • Reduction of 167 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses

  • Elimination of 761,898 metric tons of hazardous waste

  • Reduction of solid waste

 

Grass growing from the grounder of a cable

You don’t need to grow anything from your cables to meet EPEAT certification

 

All EPEAT registered products must meet Energy Star specifications. Because of this emphasis on energy conservation, EPEAT-registered products produce an annual savings of 40.6 million MwH of electricity and avoid 59,740 metric tons of water pollutant emissions. Manufacturers that have met the EPEAT criteria have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents. 

Working in smart PCB design and analysis tools enables you to design for specific challenges from power supply noise to these environmental demands. Thankfully, Cadence’s OrCAD PCB Designer enables you to have the layer management, constraint manager, and smart layout process you need to achieve any design hurdle. 

If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to us and our team of experts

About the Author

Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation. Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC-2581 industry standard.

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