Arrow opens up on global e-Stewards rollout

 

Arrow opens up on global e-Stewards rollout

By Henry Leineweber, Resource Recycling

In an interview with E-Scrap News, an executive at Arrow Value Recovery says the company will complete its global implementation of the e-Stewards standard at all of its facilities by 2015, and a spokesperson offers new insight on the special circumstances involved in certifying the company’s many locations.

For the past three years, Arrow Electronics has aggressively entered the IT asset management and reverse logistics sector, building on its already successful electronic components and IT services offerings. In pursuing this rapid expansion into the recycling services space, Arrow acquired several firms, including TechTurn, Intechra, Global Link Technology, Redemtech and Converge. According to a spokesperson for the company, a major focus in integrating these companies has been in harmonizing their compliance with third-party certifications and audits.

"What was important to Arrow was that [these acquisitions] were all best in class. We didn't want to lose this expertise and we reached out to the leaders in quality compliance," explains Scott Venhaus, director of quality and compliance for Arrow. Venhaus says certification status didn’t factor into the decisions to acquire the companies, but that the company is now committed to unifying compliance and oversight across its operations. "As we were looking at building the program, what our clients wanted was full transparency and full chain of custody to final disposition."

Despite its commitment to responsible processing, however, getting all of Arrow’s facilities certified posed some unique challenges. The company operates nine facilities in the U.S., six facilities in Europe and one in Brazil, which is not a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Since one of the goals of the e-Stewards standard is to curb the flow of electronic waste to developing countries, the certification places rigorous restrictions on what can be sent to non-OECD countries for processing.

"This initially presented a limitation on what standards we could pursue," continues Venhaus. "The e-Stewards standard is not site-by-site, you have to certify all facilities, so our Sao Paulo facility presented a challenge with how to pursue certification. All e-Stewards requirements are already built into our internally-developed compliance program. That prompted a conversation with Jim Puckett and the Basel Action Network to talk about how we can truly be a global certification."

The compromise reached was a pilot program for e-Stewards certification at all Arrow facilities. The company will roll out certification at its North American and European operations over the next 12 to 18 months, culminating in full certification after the trial period ends for its Brazil facility in 2015. Due to the number of facilities and geographic distribution, multiple registrars will be used to ensure compliance, although Venhaus hopes to eventually streamline the process.

"It’s more expensive, but we’re committed to it," says Venhaus. "All of our facilities have quality compliance leaders on the ground and we hold those individuals responsible. We all realize there are going to be some challenges. One of the things I found when working with e-Stewards was that we should be able to recycle responsibly anywhere on the planet. We feel this standard is about openness, accountability, transparency."

All Arrow facilities are currently certified to R2:2008 and the company is expected to vigorously pursue the recently-announced R2:2013 update to that certification as well.

"Both R2 and e-Stewards are focused on the same thing which is responsible recycling," concludes Venhaus. "Certification is the cost of doing business. We'll continue to work with our partners so that when clients come to Arrow they know they're getting the best."

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