What is R2 and Why Does It Matter?

A critical component of corporate responsibility is the impact an organization has on the environment. One massive cause of damaging pollution created by the business world is electronic waste, or e-waste. According to the United Nations, e-waste is the fastest growing type of waste, with an estimated 48.2 million metric tons created in 2017, the equivalent to 100 Empire State Buildings.

The improper disposal of old electronics creates not only hazardous conditions in the developing nations where the machines are typically shipped, but also creates cybersecurity threats. Thus, R2 certification, or responsible recycling, is a title sought out by responsible organizations as they look for asset management solutions.

What is the R2 Standard?

The U.S. EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) advises all electronic recyclers to gain at least one of the accredited certification standards, one being the Responsible Recycling “R2” Standard for Electronics Recyclers, and the other the e-Stewards-Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment or “e-stewards.”

R2 is considered the leading standard for electronics repair and recycling, and is managed by Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI). There are currently 600+ facilities in 21 countries that are R2 certified, including IT Xchange’s North Carolina headquarters. The R2 Standard, as stated by SERI, provides a common set of processes, as well as safety measures and documentation requirements that was collectively developed by the U.S. EPA, state agency regulators, electronics recyclers/refurbishers/trade associations, OEMs/customers of e-recycling services, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The most recent version of the standard, R2:2013, creates guidelines for organizations to directly benefit their employees, surrounding community and the environment. R2 maximizes reuse and recycling, minimizes hazardous exposure causing adverse effect to human health or the environment, ensures safe management materials not just on the operating organization’s premises but that of downstream handlers, and requires the destruction of all data on all used electronic devices.

How Do Organizations Get Certified?

In order to become R2:2013 certified, an organization must first apply and then go through an extensive two-step audit conducted by a third party, SERI-approved certification body (CB). A list of these CBs is available on the SERI website. The certification process takes several months to complete, and some organizations hire consultants before undergoing the audits to ensure their facility, operations and staff are prepared. Not only do the proper practices need to be exhibited, there must be documentation in an EHSMS (environmental, health and safety management system). Any instances of non-conformance will require corrective action from the R2 applicant, and major non-conformance issues will require a second site visit from the auditor before certification is determined to be authorized.

How R2 Certified Businesses Can Help You

An R2:2013 certified business can provide asset management services that take your unwanted, used electronics and either repair and resell them on the secondary market, or have them responsibly recycled for scrap materials. Repairing and reselling hardware extends the life of products at affordable prices for companies or individuals who need it while also keeping them out of the e-waste circuit. Recycling scraps makes use of valuable materials, giving them second life and stretching the planet’s limited natural resources.

Working with an R2 certified business contributes to your corporate responsibility by choosing not to contribute to the mass e-waste problem affecting lives around the world. Electronics may contain hazardous materials like mercury, cadmium, phosphors, lead and other toxic substances that affect the air, water and soil when improperly handled. What’s more, this hardware, ranging from used mobile phones to old servers from a data center, can contain sensitive user data like credit card information, medical history, photos and more. Working with a R2 certified business means that it and its downstream partners will ensure the proper data destruction of devices before they are resold or scrapped.

While 15 pounds of electronics are generated per capita around the world, only 20 percent will be recycled. If you, or your customers are going through a hardware upgrade, save on the costs of storage/maintenance and make a conscious, responsible choice to work with an R2 certified business to take the used hardware off your hands.

IT Xchange offers new and recertified PC and server technology to value-added resellers. Its Morrisville, North Carolina facility is R2:2013 certified.