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 Functions. R2:2013 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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