Raising the standard

Departments - Editor's Column

May 28, 2014
DeAnne Toto

DeAnne Toto

The topic of certification received quite a bit of attention during the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) 2014 Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas in April. ISRI offers its Recycling Industry Operating Standard (RIOS), which it describes as “the sole program on the market that combines quality, environmental, health and safety requirements in a single management system.” It can be paired with the Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) Standard for electronics recyclers.

However, RIOS and R2/RIOS are not the only standards that recyclers have felt the need to be certified to. Many recyclers also or instead possess the more general ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management) or OHSAS 18001 (occupational health and safety) certifications or e-Stewards certification, which is designed for electronics recyclers and specifies an ISO 14001 certified environmental management system.

While the subject of this month’s cover story, Arrow Electronics, Englewood, Colorado, has achieved R2/RIOS and e-Stewards certification for its IT asset disposition (ITAD) facilities, the company’s Tim Kolbus says there is yet to be a single “right” industry standard.

In addition to the R2 and e-Stewards standards, Arrow is certified to the Transported Asset Protection Association standard for trucking security, and the company’s Scott Venhaus, director of global quality and compliance, says Arrow is examining additional certifications. (See “Reverse logic,” beginning on page 38, for more information.)

While Kolbus says a single stringent standard eventually may emerge for the electronics reuse and recycling industry, in the meantime, Arrow has established its own global standard that it says goes above and beyond currently available standards.

Venhaus says Arrow had the unique opportunity through acquisitions made over the last four years to combine EHS (environmental, health and safety), data security and recycling standards that were already compliant with R2 and/or e-Stewards in addition to other standards. “By combining those internal standards and leveraging the voice of our customers, we developed what we believe to be a best-in-class globally consistent program,” he says.

Venhaus adds that the adoption of a single stringent global standard rather than the competing standards available today would streamline costs for electronics recyclers, allowing responsible recyclers to apply the resources and costs they currently incur to support multiple standards toward meeting a single standard. This would relieve the need for client audits, providing a financial benefit to the company’s clients and its asset management and recycling partners as well.

How likely such a move is remains to be seen; but, in the meantime, recyclers and their clients have no shortage of certification tools that can help them distinguish and improve their operations.