Trade-In Tech
by on July 2, 2020

With our ever-growing reliance on consumer electronics, tons of electronic waste is produced every year. It's estimated that 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste are disposed of every year. Imagine how much of that waste is reusable!


R2 certification was established as a means to address that waste. It's an official standard that's geared towards recyclers and resellers. Whether you're a consumer electronics wholesaler or you own a direct-to-consumer retail business, being R2 certified has its advantages.


That R2 badge of honor ensures that electronics are safely recycled and ready for use by another owner. Many R2 certified goods fetch a higher price tag. Some retailers and customers won't even buy goods unless it has that certification in place. As a wholesaler, it also opens up more opportunities for you to source inventory and parts.


Needless to say, becoming R2 certified is well worth the investment. That said, it's not an easy process. The certification is meant to hold companies accountable and establish a universal standard for recycling. Thus, it's very strict. To make matters worse, the standards are constantly evolving.


What Exactly is R2 Certification?


Also referred to as "Responsible Recycling," R2 recycling is a standard method of recycling and reusing electronics. The certification was established by SERI, also known as Sustainable Electronics Recycling International. The standards are overseen by the R2 Technical Advisory Committee or TAC.


There are a few different goals that SERI sought to achieve with R2. The two biggest are environment responsibility and Data Security.


Environmental Responsibility


A big part of being R2 certified is ensuring that electronics are recycled responsibly. While they are nicely packaged and assembled for users, electronics are filled with components that have a major impact on public health and the environment.


Those components expose the general public to harmful materials like:


  • Lead

  • Chromium

  • Cadmium

  • Brominated flame retardants

  • PCBs

  • Toxic fumes


Those chemicals, plus more, could ultimately affect the quality of soil and water in areas surrounding landfills. R2 protocols aim to address those issues head one.


Data Security


Another big issue that R2 standard addresses is data security. Contrary to popular belief, your information isn't deleted when you reset a device to factory settings. Some information can stay behind. This can pose a serious privacy risk when a device is resold.


There are various methods that recyclers must use to ensure that every single piece of private data is erased from a device.


How to Obtain Your R2 Certification


Becoming R2 certified is not a quick process. It's about adopting brand-new methods of handling electronic waste. There's a good chance that your facility will need to make some major changes to how it handles things to comply with R2 standards.


It's important to note that certification applies to individual facilities. If you are a larger recycler with multiple facilities, each one will need separate certifications. It doesn't apply to larger companies as a whole.


Now that we have that out of the way, what's the first step in the process?


Step 1: Learn More About R2 Standards


First things first, we recommend studying up on R2 standards. You need to fully understand what these standards entail and how they will affect your company overall.


This can seem like a daunting task. But, it's an important one. Remember, R2 standards are evolving, so make sure that you're reading up on current standards.


Luckily, SERI makes it pretty easy to do your homework! You can access a myriad of content on the SERI website. Sign up for the R2 newsletter to learn about changes to the standards as they occur. The last thing you want to do is apply outdated changes to your facility.


You can also take advantage of many training materials. SERI offers webinars, interactive training modules, guides, and a host of supporting documents. Take time to scour through these materials and familiarize yourself with R2 standards.


Don't hold off until the last minute to learn. It's going to take time for you to familiarize yourself with what SERI and TAC are looking for. Take some time out of every day to go over those materials. Share them with your team as well so that they know what to expect moving forward.


Step 2: Develop Your Management System


The next step is going to be developing your various management systems. There are several aspects of the recycling process that you will need to keep track of. This includes managing documents pertaining to those used electronics, your compliance with Environmental Health and Safety systems, data security protocols, and more.


This is where things can get difficult. Many facilities seeking certification will hire a consultant to help with this step. It's one of the most crucial steps in the process, so having some guidance can be beneficial.


SERI doesn't endorse consultants directly. But, the organization does provide a list of consultants who passed the auditor training program. This ensures that consultants are knowledgeable about what auditors are looking for.


Take time to develop your systems accordingly. Also, it's important to document everything. Auditors will need at least three months of records during your first audit. The earlier you get started, the better.


Step 3: Preparing a Roadmap


Once you have started to develop your management systems, you'll need to create a roadmap of how you will start complying. How will you comply with the R2 standards? What is it going to take to get your facility to that point?


This phase is going to take a lot of planning. With your consultant's help, you can start creating a realistic approach to how you will move your facility forward.


Step 4: Reforming Your Facility


Now is the hard part! At this point, you will need to start implementing those changes and reforming your facility. The goal is to comply with those R2 standards before you even get certified.


This is going to involve a lot of trial and error. Mistakes will be made and you may have to go back to the drawing board sometimes.


Take this opportunity to see what works and what doesn't. This is when your facility is going to go through the biggest change. Take things slow and do things right.


Step 5: Analyzing Your Downstream Vendors


Here's a step that many facilities fail to think about. A big part of being R2 certified is ensuring that your downstream vendors and partners are complying as well.


Most facilities will only work with other R2 partners. You don't have to ditch your non-certified vendors. But, you will have to adopt new documentation policies to comply with the established standards. Work with your vendors closely and adopt those new policies now to make things easier moving forward.


Step 6: Completing Your First Audit


So, you've reformed your facility and are working hard to comply with R2 standards. What now? It's time for your first audit!


You can schedule an appointment with a third-party auditor. Most will schedule at least three months out, so be prepared.


There's no way to guarantee that you will pass this audit. Different auditors focus on different things. The goal is to comply with the standards as closely as possible and take the auditor's feedback seriously. They are there to help you.


Step 7: Take Corrective Action


There's a good chance that the first audit will bring attention to several areas of non-compliance. This is normal. The auditor will bring their results to the certifying body, which will then produce an in-depth report detailing those issues.


Now's the time to perfect your R2 adoption. Take those issues seriously and make the necessary changes.


Depending on the details of your report, you may have to go through the first-stage audit a second time. If required, do so until you've passed with flying colors.


Step 8: Apply for a License


After you have passed the first audit, you will need to apply for a license. This can be done online. There is a fee involved.


You must complete the application before you move onto the second-stage audit. Provide all the necessary information and documentation.


Step 9: Completing Your Second Audit


The second audit is going to be a bit more involved than the first. The auditor will perform a detailed tour of the site. They will also interview key personnel at your facility to ensure that everyone understands the R2 standards.


You may receive some feedback from this audit as you did with the first. Make those necessary changes to fully comply with the R2 standards.


Step 10: Pay Fees and Get Your Certification!


If you pass both audits successfully, your facility will earn certification! At this point, you will need to pay the necessary fees.


It's important to remember that certification is an ongoing thing. You must maintain those standards, continue to pay the necessary fees, and get recertified every three years.




Getting R2 certified is no easy task. But, it's well worth the time and effort. With that certification, there's a lot that you can do. It can benefit your business as a whole while also giving your customers some peace of mind.

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