Responsible Purchasing Network

Computers: Definitions

This glossary includes key terms from the Guide and may be used as a companion to the text.


basic information gathered before a program begins that is used later to provide a comparison for assessing program impact
Brominated flame retardants
hormone disrupting chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) that are added to computers and office electronics to reduce the risk of fire; see also polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). 
bioaccumlative, toxic metal included in electronic equipment
End-of-life management
process by which products are disposed of after their term of useful service expires
Environmentally preferable
products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to other products and services that serve the same purpose.
Hazardous substance
1. material posing a threat to human health and/or the environment, that can be toxic, corrosive, ignitable, explosive, or chemically reactive 2. substance that must be reported to the EPA if released into the environment. 
Hexavalent chromium
positive-6 valence chromium, considered a potential occupational carcinogen
material used in electronic equipment that causes short term and chronic nervous system impairment to exposed individuals
Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs)
a class of flame retardant chemicals added to plastics that can enter the environment but do not degrade quickly or easily, see also diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
a class of flame retardant chemicals added to plastics that can enter the environment but do not degrade quickly or easily
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
a substance made from vinyl chloride (a known carcinogen) and used in some plastics, see also "vinyl/polyvinyl chloride"
policy whereby equipment can be returned to a manufacturer, distributor or recycler at the end of useful life 
Toxic substance
a chemical or mixture that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment
Typical Energy Consumption (TEC)
a method of testing and comparing the energy performance of computers, which focuses on the typical electricity consumed by a product while in normal operation during a representative period of time
Volatile organic compound (VOC)
organic compound that typically vaporizes at room temperature and participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions

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