Recycling Standards

As industry embraces opportunities to lessen their environmental footprint through various recycling programs, the recycling industry finds itself facing new initiatives designed to ensure wastes are handled appropriately. There are currently three such accredited programs – RIOS, R2, and E-Stewards, all designed to deal with electronic waste.

RIOS (Recycling Industry Operating Standard) was developed by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). RIOS is an integrated management system standard that combines the management of quality, environmental, and occupational health and safety into a single unified system. Developed specifically by and for the scrap recycling industry, RIOS provides a systematic framework for recycling facilities to achieve measurable improvement in their management system performance.

For more information, go to the ISRI website.

R2 (Responsible Recycling) is an independent set of voluntary operational practices specific to electronics recycling. The practices were developed by the EPA with industry input. At the foundation of R2 is the requirement to develop an Environmental, Health, and Safety Management System (EHSMS) to plan and monitor its environmental, health, and safety practices, including the activities it undertakes to conform to R2 Practices. ISRI has adopted R2 into the RIOS certification program to provide a voluntary path for electronics recyclers to improve their facility operations and use RIOS as the tool to meet the EHSMS requirement in R2.

For more information on R2, go to this EPA webpage.

The final standard is the e-Steward program developed by the Basel Action Network (BAN). The focus of this program is to ensure exports of electronic hazardous waste to developing countries are eliminated and replaced with producer responsibility and green design programs. BAN initially had worked with both the RIOS and the EPA groups, but chose to develop their own standard based on the principles of the Basel Convention.

For more information, got to these web pages: e-Steward ProgramBasel Action Network, and Basel Convention.

The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) offers accreditation for the RIOS, R2, and e-Steward programs. See the ANAB website for more information.

For organizations that have already developed management systems that conform to ISO 9001, 14001, and 18001, meeting the requirements of any of these three initiatives should not be an overwhelming task.

Note: This article was based on an article written by Larry Tibert, EHS Business Unit Manager, for the NQA Update Newsletter.