In complex product categories, such as IT, social and environmental risks run high. TCO Development, the organization behind the sustainability certification for TCO Certified IT products, launched the report, “Navigating the Sustainable IT Revolution — the Critical Role of Independent Verification,” to help buyers worldwide accurately verify the social and environmental aspects of their purchases.

“The millions of workers in the supply chain often face poverty wages, dangerous and unsafe working conditions, and stand without social protections,” said Parul Sharma, CEO of the Academy for Human Rights in Business and a contributer to the report. “This has clearly been identified within electronics and IT.”

In a global study of online environmental claims, 40% were found to be false or misleading. To avoid greenwash and false product claims, transparency and verification are key to validating an organization’s sustainable procurement efforts and reputation.

“IT purchases are one of the largest categories of state, local government, and public institutional spending,” said Jonathan Rivin, materials evaluation specialist at Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. “Therefore, supply chain impacts can be significant and affect later stages of the life cycle. Improving sustainability practices along the supply chain reduces the potential for supply chain disruption and increases resiliency.”

This year’s Impacts and Insights report takes a critical look at what purchasers need to do to avoid greenwash — and the tools available to reduce reliance on false claims. The report offers insights based on the experience with TCO Certified, along with expert voices from policy officials, NGOs, scientists, factory auditors, product testers, and procurement.

“It’s critical that organizations get independent proof of environmental and supply chain impacts connected to the products they source,” said Clare Hobby, director of global purchaser engagement at TCO Development. “Reputations, stakeholder credibility, and accuracy are on the line more than ever. With our Impacts and Insights report, we want to give purchasers the tools for avoiding the common risks of relying on greenwash and false product claims. Getting proof of what’s actually happening in the IT supply chain gives any organization the confidence to stand behind their sustainability efforts.”