Nordic reseller Atea could serve as a model for UK resellers and MSPs looking to boost their sales and reputation among customers by leading on a sustainability agenda.
That's according to the CEO of TCO Development, a Swedish not-for-profit body whose TCO Certified sustainability certification has recently been embraced by Lenovo, HP and Dell for PCs.
TCO Certified only qualifies displays, PCs, smartphones, projectors and headsets that have been independently verified to meet all criteria at the product, factory and brand level. Key criteria cover hazardous content, energy efficiency, product lifetime, conflict minerals and social responsibility in the manufacturing supply chain, which has been an issue for the likes of Apple in recent years.
HP this week became the last of the big three global PC manufacturers to achieve the stamp on a range of its notebooks, following in the footsteps of Dell last year and Lenovo in 2014.
Atea 'all in' on sustainability
"Lots of [Nordic resellers] have started differentiating their products into standard and more sustainable choices in their web shops and product catalogues."
TCO CEO Sören Enholm told CRN that some Nordic resellers are leading on a sustainability agenda to win business, and predicted that their counterparts across Europe, including in the UK, could follow suit.
"The Nordic market is quite early in adopting things going on in the sustainability field, both environmental and social," he said.
Sweden's largest reseller and SI, Atea, has gone "all in" on sustainability, Enholm explained.
"The other Nordic resellers are looking at what Atea is doing and also want to do things," he said. "Lots of them have started differentiating their products into standard and more sustainable choices in their web shops and product catalogues. This is quite common, and in this case they can use TCO Certified as a tool to choose the products they put on these ‘sustainable shelves'.
"This is quite a simple way for a reseller to start this, and see that it makes sense from a business perspective. Otherwise they would have to invest a lot of knowledge and processes to do it themselves."
Resellers can take it a step further by offering more sustainable IT services to end customers like better logistics, handling of packaging, introduce initiatives around re-use of systems and components, and take-back of equipment, Enholm added.
"The resellers in Sweden that are out in front offer lots of local sustainability services alongside the products they sell," he said.
Human rights and hazardous chemicals
TCO Certified started off life 25 years ago, focusing purely on computer displays.
Enholm claimed that most professional monitors sold in Europe are now TCO Certified, but admitted the certification has enjoyed more limited success in other hardware categories - until recently.
"Now that we have the three global players - Dell, HP and Lenovo - certifying their computers it makes it easier for the purchasers to require TCO Certified," he said.
"The more purchasing power we have, the tougher we can make the criteria in the coming generations."
TCO Certified focuses on both environmental and social criteria, covering the whole lifecycle of the products it certifies, from the manufacturing to the use phase, to the end-of-life phase.
This sets it apart from other standards and certifications that focus on only one area, Enholm said.
"Every time we release a new generation of criteria we choose where to tighten the thresholds," he said. "Right now, we believe the two areas that are most urgent to address are human rights issues in the supply chain and hazardous chemicals, so that is where we have the most development efforts right now regarding the criteria."
Enholm claimed that sustainability is rising up the agenda in the UK, as he urged UK resellers interested in learning more to contact him.
"My view is that in the UK, there has been lots of focus on climate. In general, everyone has been working with climate and Co2 emissions, and therefore lots of focus has been on energy efficiency - but not as much outside that," he said.
"But I think what's happening now is that it's starting to move outside climate, and all this is becoming much more interesting and relevant."
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