R2’s website touts the slogan, “Quality, Transparency, and Proven Success.” As the leading environmental, worker health, and safety standard for the global electronics refurbishing and recycling industry, R2 is constantly improving and intensifying their standards and requirements for an R2 certification. Such a rigorous, escalating requirement cycle is meant to hold companies accountable and maintain an unadulterated global network of standardized environmental and industry responsibility.
As one can imagine, companies who wish to become—and remain—R2 certified have their work cut out for them. Here’s how it’s done.
Attaining an R2 Certification
As a company who has successfully been through several R2 audits, CentricsIT has a close familiarity with the process of gaining and maintaining an R2 certification, as well as the added benefits of its construct for improved operational and production processes. As an ITAD industry leader, we specifically hold the responsible recycling, R2 2013 certification for our ITAD facility. The R2 2013 components include:
- Comprehensive – covers environmental, health, safety, and data security practices.
- Legal – specifications and compliance documentation ensure that international trade of used and EOL devices is conducted legally and responsibly.
- Conformance – all R2 certified recyclers must provide proof of conformity to the same protocols and standards (as well as the R2 conformity of their third-party and downstream vendors).
- Applicability – R2 certifications are applicable to all organizations within the recycling industry, regardless of size or location. Moreover, R2 certifications are specific to facilities, not just the company proper, so each location must conform to R2 standards to be certified.
Starting the Process
Jason Terrell, ITAD Operations Manager at CentricsIT, and his team spent over six months intensively preparing for their first R2 audit. So, what preparation did that entail?
Research, Prep, and Roadmaps
A great deal of the preparatory work, Terrell explained, was spent researching requirements and seeking out the actionable information necessary to generate a roadmap of tasks and protocol reforms to get their ITAD facility up to R2 standards. In the end, the team hired an R2 consultant to walk the ITAD facility with them to get first-hand recommendations and augmentation advice prior to implementation initiatives.
From there, as Terrell and his team began the process of a facility-wide R2-reform, they established an Environmental Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) to help them meticulously plan, monitor, and document each step of their internal processes for:
- CentricsIT ITAD initiatives
- Environmental management and conformity
- Data security protocols
- Data sanitization processes
This level of documentation is required at all times by R2 but, as Terrell found out, was also useful for training purposes in-house across multiple locations—a feature that becomes especially useful for new facility rollouts and employee turnover. When you achieve R2 certifications, you don’t just get the certification itself, your facility also benefits from the comprehensive standardizations of risk assessment, process, and workplace health and safety.
CentricsIT currently recycles tens of thousands of pounds of scrap each year, with a goal of salvaging and reusing as much of that E-Waste as possible. However, a percentage of unsalvageable scrap will always remain.
In order to establish proper R2 protocols for scrap movement between facilities and downstream vendors, Terrell and his team implemented protocols and mechanisms to weigh and record all scrap that came in and was shipped out of their facilities. Because R2 only allows a 5% or less variance between weigh-ins-and-outs, Terrell needed to schedule yearly scale calibrations to ensure the most accurate documentations possible. As dictated by R2 standards, Terrell and his team confirmed a categorizing protocol for all scrap being shipped out based on type, risk, and hazardous material. Similar reports were also required from all downstream vendors to confirm the amount of waste and resources saved and/or shipped out at each venture.
Downstream Partners and Vendors
As for managing downstream vendors, the easiest way to maintain the chain of R2 standardization across the entire recycling process is to ensure that any partners used are also R2 certified (all downstream partners must completely meet or exceed R2 standards, but do not necessarily need to hold an R2 certification themselves). Terrell clarified that, if your downstream vendors are not R2 certified, it is possible to continue using them; however, it requires significant additional documentation to ascertain compliance. This level of vendor-to-vendor accountability enables CentricsIT to accurately follow the trail of hazardous materials to final containment locations.
Data Security and Sanitization
Before the first R2 audit, CentricsIT already offered extensive data sanitization services, including Blancco data-erasure and shredding for both on-site and off-site projects—the CentricsIT ITAD facility already had a designated secure area for off-site sanitization operations. For R2 compliance, Terrell once again implemented R2’s requirements and standards directly into existing CentricsIT data security protocols, including meticulous documentation and R2’s standardized “checks and balances” for all data wiping and destruction processes.
Insurance and Transport
Because CentricsIT offers direct hardware pickups in the state of Georgia, Terrell and his team already had strict security protocols for their transportation offerings. In preparation for the first audit, they permanently incorporated all R2 transport security structures and documentation to meet compliance standards. Specifically, for each transport event, documentation must delineate all insurance details for:
- Equipment being transported
- Transport trucks
*In addition to comprehensive insurance, Terrell must provide an official background check and driving record review for each driver.
Terrell and his team will attest that the first year of an R2 certification initiative is the hardest one. Although your company may already be operating with high standards, R2 raises the bar and requires you to navigate an intensive rubric of meticulous procedural reform, security parameters, and vendor accountability. Not only might this require a great deal of operational changes and augmentation (depending on your current practices), but you also must officially document and log each step of your process.
Although each year that passes becomes incrementally easier in terms of R2 implementations and preparation, no one audit will be the same as the next. Each auditor has their own ideas and opinions on what is most important to the certification itself, so you are never certain of which project or process will be chosen for specific R2 audit scrutiny. As a result, your entire facility must be exactly to spec, and you must have all documentation readily available to verify your claims. If you say you are doing something a certain way, you have to actually do it that way, and provide the legal documentation and evidence for that process. To maintain certification, you must welcome this level of transparency and accountability.
Maintenance and Escalation
As we mentioned before, R2 is constantly improving their standards which means that your company has to be prepared to scale with R2’s heightening requirements. Terrell’s most critical advice? Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for your first-year certification audit. Set aside time every week to keep your processes honed, your facilities in compliance, and your documentation updated to the minute.
Transparency is incredibly important, not just with the R2 auditor, but with your clients as well. At CentricsIT, we welcome accountability in all forms, whether it be industry-level like ISO, R2, OSHAS, etc. But, unlike other companies, we welcome our clients directly into our ITAD facility to witness all our ITAD processes and data security protocols for themselves.
Wish your ITAD vendor were more transparent? Contact a CentricsIT representative to learn more about how our R2 certifications keep you in compliance and provide you with the highest-quality services available.