The R2 Standard requires a written policy (R2:2013 Guidance, section 2.1) for managing used and end-of life electronic equipment based on a Hierarchy of Reuse, Materials Recovery and Energy Recovery or Land Disposal (which is only allowed “if no reuse or recycling options are viable”.) This written policy is usually integrated in other EH&S policies, but may be its own document as well.
The hierarchy is implemented in the operational procedures of each organization. Each step in the hierarchy is connected throughout the company’s operations to maximize reuse and recycling. See attached “Sample R2 Reuse Hierarchy Flowchart” for an example of a typical implementation of Provision 2. Implementing the hierarchy typically includes the following:
- Tech Cutline – technical specifications of equipment that is used to determine whether the equipment can be reused or should be recycled. Each organization should set minimum specifications of various electronics in accordance with resale opportunities. This is usually implemented in the sort or receive process.
- Test – the capability to test a piece of equipment is dependent upon having the necessary tools and technical knowledge. This varies with each company. Specialty tools can be purchased for various electronics. The knowledge may require some research to determine the reparability and it may require outside resources.
- Repair – When equipment fails testing, a determination if it can be economically repaired must be made. If equipment cannot be tested internally, then the path of equipment is reliant on the services of specialty providers. Prior to shipping such equipment to a refurbisher under “R2/Ready for Repair”, the recycler is responsible for evaluating the practicality of repair, resale, and reuse of the equipment (R2:2013 Provision 6.c.3.A).
- R2/Ready for Repair – Under Provision 6.c.3.A a recycler is required to determine if the electronics are in a condition to reuse; functional for the buyer’s requirements; and revenue exceeds the costs to test/repair. Most issues occur with equipment that provides a very small profit margin. In addition, buyers of R2/Ready for Repair equipment must be qualified with due diligence to meet the Provision 6 and Provision 5 requirements. This is intended to be rigorous in order to prevent low value equipment from being sold under the guise of reuse. The R2 Standard has streamlined the qualification of refurbishers when using R2 Certified downstreams. The best strategy is to find R2 Certified refurbishers for equipment that you cannot economically test or repair in-house.
- Recycling - If equipment cannot be reused, the next option is Materials Recovery where subset materials such as plastics, metals, and glass can be separated and recovered for use in replacing feedstock to manufacture new products.
- Energy Recovery/Disposal - The final option in the Hierarchy Policy is Energy Recovery or Land Disposal which, as stated above, is only allowed “if no reuse or recycling options are viable”. The R2 Guidance document currently lists three allowed exceptions. The cost to recycle a material cannot be considered in a “viability” determination.