E-waste Recycling Certification Consultants: R2 and e-Stewards

Electronics are a huge part of our day-to-day lives, economy, and culture. With ever-evolving technology, there is always a newer, more effective device available. This equates to substantial electronics consumption across the globe, and in turn, significant electronic waste, or e-waste.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2016, only about 20 percent of all e-waste globally was recycled. From a solid waste standpoint alone, this is a major issue, but there are additional considerations:

  • Hazardous Materials – most electronics include hazardous materials that require proper disposal to protect the environment and human health.
  • Natural Resources – electronics are composed of valuable metals, such as copper, silver, gold, and palladium, as well as plastic and glass. By properly processing e-waste, so many of these natural resources can be conserved.
  • Reuse – Many electronic devices are discarded before the end of their useful life. It is important to identify these electronics to ensure they don’t end up in a landfill prematurely.

Freer Consulting can help you get e-waste certified

At Freer Consulting, we have the flexibility to tailor our support to the specific needs of our clients. For clients with an existing EHSMS, we can assess the level of compliance with a specific standard and make recommendations for how to address gaps. For clients that are just getting started, we can provide a baseline, ISO-compliant management system, and additional services, as requested, such as:

  • Customize baseline processes to reflect the unique language and operations of a company.
  • Provide training on processes to ensure they are properly implemented.
  • Conduct internal audits, which is a requirement of many standards.
  • Facilitate work with certifying bodies (selection, scheduling, etc.).
  • Provide general guidance and recommendations on any of the above, empowering the company to perform these activities on their own.

What is an e-waste recycling certification?

The e-waste recycling industry has grown to accommodate the increase in e-waste; however, with limited laws on e-waste recycling, these recyclers don’t have much oversight. Consumers (both individuals and companies) might assume that when they send their used electronics to an e-waste recycler, the electronics will be responsibly dispositioned. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. However, by selecting a recycler that is certified to either the R2 or e-Stewards standards, the consumer can ensure their electronics are being handled properly.

How to get certified as an e-waste recycler

To obtain an e-waste recycling certification, a recycler must demonstrate that they meet specific environmental, health, and safety standards. These standards influence the work at the recycler’s facility, as well as the management of the e-waste once it leaves the recycler’s facility. Once certification is obtained, the recycler is assessed continually for conformance to these standards. If a nonconformance is identified and not addressed, the recycler will lose their certification.

There are two primary standards that guide e-waste recycling: R2 and e-Stewards. Overall, the process to certification is the same, with a few key differences:

R2 Certification Process:

  1. Determine which standard(s) to use for the Environmental Health and Safety Management System (EHS): ISO 14001/ISO 45001 or RIOS. Note: In order to gain certification to R2, a recycler must also be certified to one of the aforementioned standards.
  2. Develop the EHS Management System. This system integrates all of the requirements of the R2 standard, as well as the requirements of the selected EHS standard(s) (ISO 14001/ISO 45001 or RIOS). This involves developing procedures, work instructions, and forms to guide the day-to-day work of the recycler.
  3. Select an R2-approved certifying body to conduct your third-party audits and agree to a scheduled audit date.
  4. Once the Management System is implemented, collect and maintain the records required by your system. These records will provide evidence of compliance to your third-party auditor.
  5. Pay for an R2 license prior to your third-party audit.
  6. Participate in the third-party audit and address nonconformities, if applicable.

E-Stewards Certification Process:

  1. Develop the Environmental Management System per the e-Stewards standard, which includes ISO 14001. This involves developing procedures, work instructions, and forms to guide the day-to-day work of the recycler.
  2. Select an e-Stewards approved certifying body to conduct your third-party audits and agree to a scheduled audit date.
  3. Once the Management System is implemented, collect and maintain the records required by your system. These records will provide evidence of compliance to your third-party auditor.
  4. Complete the Revenue Verification Form and pay licensing and initiation fees.
  5. Complete the stage 1 and stage 2 audits with the certifying body and address nonconformities, if applicable.
  6. Complete the e-Stewards Licensing and Marketing Agreement.

What is an Environmental, Health, and Safety Management System (EHSMS) and why is it important?

Both the R2 and e-Stewards standards require an EHS Management System, which is a system of processes that guide all business operations for the recycler, from receiving and sorting, to downstream vendor evaluation and qualification. In addition to providing a framework for conducting operations, these processes consider, monitor, and mitigate the health, safety, and environmental impacts of the company, while also integrating the requirements of the applicable standards. 

R2 certification requires well-documented EHSMS that clearly identifies who is responsible for which activities, when these activities occur in a given process, and what records need to be maintained for proof of conformance for both internal and external auditors.

How to develop an EHSMS

It can be really overwhelming to figure out how to convert a standard into a compliant EHSMS, which is why companies often turn to consultants for assistance. Some consultants will provide a turnkey solution, which delivers an EHSMS that is compliant; however, these systems are difficult to apply and enforce, because they don’t reflect the unique operations of a business. Ideally, a hybrid solution is offered, where a compliant EHSMS is provided as a baseline, but is then tailored to meet the unique needs of the client.

EHSMS Implementation Consulting Services

At Freer Consulting, we have the experience and expertise helping companies implement and maintain ISO management systems. For e-waste EHS management systems, this includes planning, system selection, implementation, and certification body audit support to support your goals and objectives as a certified R2 or RIOS e-waste recycler.

 

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