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July 2014

What Are RIOS and EHSMS?

What Are RIOS and EHSMS and How Do they Inter-Relate?

R2:2013 requires that electronics recyclers possess and use an Environmental, Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) and that the management system be certified to an accredited management system standard (e.g., RIOS or a combination of both ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001).  The ISO and OHSAS certification bodies lack a single standard appropriate to fully certify an EHSMS at an electronics recycling facility.  The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (“ISRI”) responded by developing the Recycling Industry Operating Standards (“RIOS”), which incorporate the industry-relevant EHSMS elements found in the ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environment) and OHSAS 18001 (health and safety) standards, while eliminating the overlap that would occur if all three standards were adopted.  The RIOS standard is based on the plan-check-do-act model for continual improvement that forms the basis of the ISO 9001 standard.  Rather than incorporate parts of three different standards, scrap recyclers save time and money by adopting the single RIOS standard.  R2:2013 has approved RIOS to certify EHSMS for purposes of its R2:2013 Standard.

The Standard requires all recycling facilities to abide by applicable health and safety laws.  This includes implementation of appropriate ventilation engineering controls and the development of facility-specific occupational health and safety risk assessments. Additionally, many of the health and safety measures required by R2:2013 go over and above measures that may be required by applicable laws.  For example, the Standard requires the implementation of engineering controls including, where appropriate, dust control and capture, and ventilation controls.  The Standard also requires a facility-specific identification and assessment of occupational health and safety and environmental risks, including risks associated with exposures to substances.  Indeed, the Standard notes that such facility assessments should take into account the unique risks posed by exposure to substances in the recycling industry and lists substances of note (e.g., mercury, lead, beryllium, cadmium, and PCBs).  All of these requirements are in addition to blanket protections recommended under the Standard, including safe work practices and medical surveillance.

What are the R2:2013 Focus materials?

What are the R2:2013 Focus materials?

The R2:2013 standard requires recyclers to document any movement of used and end-of- life equipment that is likely to qualify as a Focus Material or hazardous waste. The R2:2013 Standard identifies as Focus Materials any end-of-life electronic equipment and/or electronic assemblies that contain hazardous materials:

A. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
B. Mercury
C. CRT glass (with some exceptions)
D. Batteries
E. Whole or shredded circuit boards containing lead solder

In several important respects, R2:2013 adopts more detailed obligations exceeding the Basel Convention or national legislation in many countries. For example, R2:2013’s broad references to PCBs, mercury, and batteries in the definition of Focus Materials are broader than the component listings identified in the Basel Convention A1180 listing.

Also, R2:2013 removes some of the ambiguity related to the Convention’s non-hazardous waste listing for waste electronics by designating circuit boards containing lead as Focus Materials requiring more stringent management and export controls. (The Convention lists printed circuit boards under the non-hazardous B1180 waste entry in Annex IX – presumptively non- hazardous.)

R2:2013 also imposes requirements for recyclers to document the legality of importing or exporting Focus Materials contained in so-called “untested or non- functioning equipment.” As noted further below, untested used equipment destined for repair, refurbishment and reuse is generally viewed as non-waste that is outside the Basel Convention, although this issue is the subject of ongoing discussions among governments. Obligations to assess untested or end-of-life equipment containing Focus Materials apply to shipments for recycling within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area, despite the fact that the Basel Convention does not apply to such shipments, and OECD countries may not regard some of these materials as wastes subject to stringent regulation.

Furthermore, R2:2013 mandates that an electronics recycler “comply with all applicable environmental, health and safety . . . legal requirements . . .” This broad requirement ensures legal compliance includes consideration of differing approaches governments have taken to the classification and control of e-waste shipments, including imports and exports.

In conclusion, certification to R2:2013 requires recyclers to document the legality in the importing, exporting and transit countries of any movement of used and end-of- life equipment that is likely to qualify as an A1180 hazardous waste. The R2:2013 Standard’s special attention and obligations for importing and exporting Focus Materials correctly directs the attention of recyclers to those materials often regarded as “hazardous wastes” under the Basel Convention. The more general obligation to comply with applicable legal requirements ensures that in those instances where a government may choose to regulate a broader universe of used or end-of-life equipment as hazardous, such requirements are identified and addressed.

R2:2013 Regulation of Used Equipment Movement

Update: R2:2013 Regulation of Used Equipment Movement?

A multitude of governments have expressed concern over the movement of e- waste materials across country bounders for recovery under the auspices of repair or reuse.  While the approach of individual governments may vary, the Standard takes a practical approach to promoting the responsible reuse of equipment and components even as governments continue to debate the need for additional controls and transparency requirements for such shipments at the international level. R2:2013’s approach to managing used equipment for reuse is fully consistent with the requirements of the Basel Convention and establishes important documentation and assurance mechanisms that go beyond the obligations set forth in the original Convention.

  • Equipment and Components that are Fully Functional.  Tested and “fully functional” equipment that is ready for use out of the box is not subject to international waste controls under the Basel Convention.   As a treaty governing the transboundary (across country borders) movement of “hazardous waste” destined for materials recovery or final disposal, the export of functioning used equipment is clearly outside the scope of the Convention. Nonetheless, R2:2013 mandates specific testing, quality assurance and product return requirements that will reduce the risk of improper movements of end-of-life equipment and components.  These requirements apply regardless of where the equipment is managed, if it is being exported, or the country of export.
  • Equipment Tested for Key FunctionsR2:2013 Standard imposes similar requirements and documentation on proposed shipments of used products for resale that are tested for “Key Functions.” R2:2013 requires recyclers shipping equipment and components that contain Focus Materials to implement and document test methods confirming that “Key Functions” of the equipment or components are working properly, disclose to buyers the functions that are not working properly and describe the condition of the equipment, implement a Product Return Plan and policy and ensure the equipment and components meet the specifications of the recipient vendor or end user.
    • At the international level, governments have yet to adopt final guidance under the Basel Convention on the question of how the functionality of a used product is to be defined for purposes of demonstrating legitimate reuse.  The proposed definition in the pending draft Technical Guidelines on E-waste (slated for possible adoption in 2015) focuses on “essential key functions” which are defined as “the originally intended function(s) of a unit of equipment that will satisfactorily enable the equipment to be reused.”
    • This current definition in draft Basel Technical Guidelines is comparable to the current R2:2013 Standard’s focus on Key Functions: “’Key Functions’” are the originally-intended functions of a unit of equipment or component, or a subset thereof, that will satisfactorily serve the purpose(s) of someone who will use the unit.”
    • R2:2013 Standard is also in line with the approach for determining functionality reflected in the recently released European Union WEEE Recast.
  • Evaluated and Non-Functioning Equipment.  Finally, even with regard to the management of equipment that is non-functioning but suitable and intended for repair, the R2:2013 Standard again imposes documentation, tracking, recordkeeping and auditing requirements to ensure that such shipments are for legitimate repair rather than materials recovery.
    • As a rule of thumb, used equipment destined for legitimate reuse, including reuse following repair or refurbishment, does not qualify as a waste under the Convention.   While many governments support the movement of used products for legitimate repair and refurbishment as “non-wastes”, others have expressed concerns with the potential for illegal or undocumented movement of e-waste for materials recovery under the guise of repair.
    • Parties to the Basel Convention are currently negotiating whether or not to adopt a new and more expansive reading of the Convention to control certain transboundary movements of used equipment destined for repair or refurbishment, although currently there is no consensus on an approach and negotiations are expected to continue well into 2015.
    • Among the concerns raised is that new restrictions on legitimate shipments for repair could have the unintended consequence of accelerating the generation of e-waste by prematurely diverting reusable equipment to recycling rather than repair and continued use.

In summary, the Standard incorporates measures aimed at ensuring that shipments of used equipment for reuse or repair are legitimate and environmentally sound while ensuring they are practical and economically sound.

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