US EPA: R2, e-Stewards a positive force

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

February 11, 2016

The e-Stewards and R2 certifications are implemented well and have improved the e-scrap recycling industry, according to an analysis from the U.S. EPA.EPA / KevinGrant, Shutterstock

The study concluded the two industry certifications “have brought better order; better management; an increased awareness of the environmental, health and safety risks associated with electronics recycling; and an improved awareness of regulatory requirements and best practices.”

EPA officials also had a multitude of recommendations for improvements to the standards and their implementation.

“EPA’s study affirms that e-Stewards and R2 certification programs are helping to improve the responsible management of used electronics in the U.S.,” Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, stated in apress release. “We remain committed to continuing the dialogue started by this study to identify opportunities for continued improvement in management of used electronics.”

Government officials stressed the limitations of the study, which was conducted March 2013-May 2015 and was based on interviews with 39 stakeholders and nine audits observed by the EPA, a “small percentage of all certified electronics recycling facilities and auditors.” And while the observed audits were at facilities representing a range of audit types, facility sizes and services offered, the facilities were asked in advance whether EPA could observe the audits.

“It can be surmised that the clients had confidence in a positive outcome of the audit in order to agree to let EPA observe the audit,” according to the EPA.

Overall, the study found auditors did a good job of ensuring facilities’ environmental, health and safety management systems are consistent with the standards and are kept up to date. They also excelled in thorough auditing of the data security and data destruction requirements of the standards, according to a study fact sheet.

The EPA also found areas for improvement. Top recommendations included providing additional training and guidance materials to grow the knowledge base for all stakeholders, providing regular updates to the standards, increasing audit times so they can be more thorough and addressing perceived conflict-of-interest issues associated with having certifying bodies audit companies paying them.

The study intentionally did not compare the two standards or draw conclusions about whether one is being implemented better than the other.

The Basel Action Network, which manages the e-Stewards standard, released a statement addressing the report and its recommendations.

“We are very pleased to get high marks for the implementation of a certification that goes above and beyond U.S. law to support the consensus of countries across the globe that agree to ban the export of toxic electronic waste from developed to developing countries,” Mandy Knudtson, e­-Stewards business director, said in the statement.


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