Appliances and Electronics

Description of Environmental Purchasing Policy

Commodity clusters under the Appliances and Electronics section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy include: Appliances, Miscellaneous Office Equipment, Computer Printers, Copiers, Fax Machines, Pagers/Beepers.

All appliances and electronic equipment are expected to have the US EPA ENERGY STAR of approval (a US EPA and Department of Energy label for energy efficient products that save money and cut greenhouse gas emissions). A list of ENERGY STAR approved appliances and electronics can be found in the Environmental Purchasing Policy.

When finding an ENERGY STAR labeled product is not feasible, an alternative third-party energy efficiency standard is desirable. If a certified product is unavailable, the purchaser must consider other criteria such as efficiency, durability, reusability and product composition.

The Purchasing Policy also recommends that all printers have auto-duplexing (double-sided) printing capabilities in addition to an ENERGY STAR label.

Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing This Product

Purchasers are encouraged to consider waste-reducing alternatives to buying new electronics and overusing appliances in order to limit carbon emissions, expense, and the proliferation of certain heavy metals and other inputs. Suggestions include:

Air Conditioners: It is best to try controlling the temperature in a room manually before turning on the air conditioner.  Closing blinds prevents direct sunlight from heating rooms. Also, opening windows and doors can allow air to circulate and help cool down a room.

Dehumidifiers: Water accumulation at foundations and windows, leaking faucets and poor air circulation increase humidity within rooms and buildings. Finding ways to prevent water from accumulating, repairing faucets and improving air circulation are more efficient solutions to dehumidifying a room or building. 

What to Consider When Purchasing Appliances and Electronics

ENERGY STAR Approval: Your top priority is to find appliances and electronics with ENEGRY STAR approval. ENERGY STAR approved products are considerably more energy efficient than products that are not approved, and save electricity use as well as money on energy bills. Remember to find copiers, fax machines and printers that are both ENERGY STAR approved and have double sided printing capabilities. If the ENERGY STAR approval is not applicable for a product that you are looking for, then give preference to products that have a third party energy efficiency certification. Ask a salesperson or provider about alternative certifications for energy efficiency.

EnergyGuide: The EnergyGuide label on an appliance displays the energy use of the product compared to similar units. This is a valuable information resource that can help purchasers compare models and choose the most efficient one.

Labels that Measure Efficiency: Some appliances and electronics are required to have labels displaying metrics that measure the products’ efficiency. For instance, air conditioners are measured in SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio); the higher the SEER number, the more efficient the air conditioner.  Look for such measurements of efficiency when shopping for all appliances and electronics. If you are unsure whether a certain product has such a measurement, ask a salesperson or provider.

Recycled Products: Look for products that contain recycled materials. The higher percentage of recycled materials they contain, the more sustainable the products are. If you are unsure about whether a product contains recycled materials, ask a salesperson or provider to find out for you.

Easy Disassembly:  Appliances and electronics that are easily disassembled are better for the environment because they can be recycled more easily. Give preference to products that have easy disassembly.

Leasing and Take-back: Many stores and providers offer leasing and take-back options. When taken advantage of, these options reduce the amount of garbage thrown away and ensure that old appliances will be handled efficiently. Ask a salesperson or provider if they offer these options. Don’t forget to ask them what they do with the products after they have been returned. Give preference to stores that repair, donate or recycle.

Durability: Products that don’t need to be replaced frequently are better for the environment. When searching for appliances and electronics, give preference to products that last longer on average. Don’t hesitate to ask for official documentation on the product to confirm its durability (and other characteristics).

Toxic constituents: Toxic chemicals and heavy metals in appliances and electronics are hazardous to human and environmental health when the products are discarded. Therefore, it is important to find products that do not contain toxic constituents when possible, and to be sure that e-waste is recycled effectively.

Cartridges: Look for printers and copiers containing ink cartridges that can be refilled and recycled.  

Multifunctional Products: Sometimes it may not be necessary to purchase separate appliances or electronics. Instead, it can be cheaper and more environmentally sound to buy 2-in-1 products like televisions with DVD players and printers with copy and fax capabilities. 

Packaging: Products with minimal packaging are healthier for the environment than products with intensive packaging. Give preference to products that have less packaging. 

Televisions:  Liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions are much more efficient than either cathode ray tube (CRT) or plasma televisions. 

Size: In order to maximize the efficiency of appliances such as air conditioners and dehumidifiers, it’s important to consider the size of the rooms where they will be placed. The size of the appliances should correspond to the size of the rooms in which they will be operating.

Donating/Recycling: Donating and recycling old appliances is a safe and healthy alternative to throwing them away. If old appliances or electronic equipment are still functional or easily repaired, consider donating them to a redistribution organization. If they are no longer functional and are beyond repair, send them to a recycler, who will salvage the reusable materials. Below is a list of recyclers and donation centers in the NYC area.

Placement: The placement of certain appliances within a room can also have environmental consequences. Refrigerators and air conditioning units, for instance, should not be exposed to direct sunlight, or placed adjacent to heat-producing units such as ovens. When they are, they require more energy to function properly. Dehumidifiers should be placed away from walls to achieve maximum efficiency.

Possible Vendors

Below is a list of appliance and electronics vendors in the NYU area that sell Energy Star Certified products. This is not a comprehensive list, and the Sustainability Task Force has not formally evaluated the vendors listed. However, based on thoughtful research, we believe that the following vendors are a good starting point for purchasers in search of sustainable products and services.


Possible Recyclers and Donation Centers

The Sustainability Task Force has not formally evaluated the appliance and electronics recyclers below, but encourages purchasers at NYU to consider them when they can no longer use their products.


Additional Resources and Information

Energy Star

Buy Recycled Business Alliance: The Alliance includes over 3,200 companies and organizations committed to increasing the use of recycled-content products and materials in their day-to-day operations. The Alliance offers educational materials, a quarterly newsletter, and product-specific guides. Public purchasing entities can join for free.

Official Recycled Products Guide: This directory lists more than 5,000 manufacturers and distributors of recycled-content products.

Recycled Plastic Products Source Book:   This booklet lists more than 1,400 plastic products from approxi­mately 300 manufacturers, including nonpaper office products.

Recycling Data Network Information Services:  This commercial Web site provides access, on a sub­scription basis, to a recycled-content products database of over 4,500 listings in 700 product classifications. It also provides a reference guide and a newsletter. The product database is consid­ered to be the largest of its kind.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions of vendors for inclusion in future versions of the Environmental Purchasing Guide, please leave a comment in the box below.

 

1 Comment »

  1. Kristen Aldrich said

    Specific examples are already included in some of the sub-sections under What to Consider When Purchasing Appliances and Electronics, but it would be great to add examples for the Recycled Products, Easy Disassembly, Leasing and Take-back, Durability, Toxic constituents and Packaging sections.

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