Why so many firms are choosing dual certification

Why so many firms are choosing dual certification

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

February 21, 2014

Back in April 2011, Electronics Recyclers International (ERI) and Jack's Family Recycling Center started a national trend by becoming certified to both the e-Stewards and R2 standards.

Today more than 70 percent of companies with e-Stewards certified facilities have gained R2 certifications as well, and the push toward dual certification got a noteworthy bump last week when Sims Recycling Solutions announced 12 of its 14 North American processing facilities had become e-Stewards certified and that the remaining two were on the path to that verification. Thirteen of those facilities are already certified to R2, according to Sims.

According to the latest counts on the websites of the two standards, 67 North American recycling companies have e-Stewards certified facilities while more than 330 individual North American facilities are R2 certified. Of those 67 recycling firms with e-Stewards facilities, 49 are also signed up for R2, meaning 73 percent of companies with e-Stewards facilities elected to also gain verification from the industry's other major certifier.

"Everybody laughed in the industry when we did it first and they're not laughing anymore," ERI CEO John Shegerian told E-Scrap News. To Shegerian, the certifications have made ERI "a better company" by answering increased client demand for the certifications. "So many clients wanted R2 and so many clients wanted e-Stewards," Shegerian said, "so we said we're just going to do both."

While Shegerian noted "it's not about who has the better standard," Sean Magann of Sims Recycling Solutions ceded customers "often choose one standard to support," making dual certification especially valuable. "The significance is that all current and potential customers can have documented confirmation that Sims handles their material in accordance with the highest regulated industry standards," Magann, vice president of the company, told E-Scrap News.

Another dual-certified company, Merit ePartners, a nonprofit recycling organization employing and training "young adult offenders" in the e-scrap field, acknowledged "maintaining Merit's certifications is a large undertaking." When changes to the R2 standard were announced in 2013, added costs concerned Merit, the organization's Suzy McCausland said. "The changes in R2 in 2013 certainly gave Merit some pause. The cost and effort for certification has increased and there is now an annual fee for nonprofits of $1,000."

The pros of the certifications, however, outweighed the cons. "It is important that we embrace high expectations for them to achieve and to be measured against," McCausland said.

ECS Refining vice president of sales and marketing Mark Robards offered a different perspective on the issue of dual certification.  According to Robards, once the company went through the process of becoming e-Stewards certified, it was relatively inexpensive and convenient to become R2 certified. (ECS, it should be noted, is listed as an e-Stewards founding partner.) "If you've chosen to take the e-Stewards standard, there's very little incremental cost in being R2 certified as well," Robards said. "It's recognized in the industry that the e-Stewards certification is a higher standard." "The R2-only contingent," Robards asserted, "tries to paint it as 'Well, we're certified, too.'"

Clarification: This story was updated on Feb. 24, 2014 to include the fact ECS Refining was an e-Stewards founding partner.

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Dual Certification

Dual certification is expensive for small e-waste recycling companies and unnecessary unless municipalities have bought into the propaganda surrounding e-stewards which is not business friendly and does not encourage cooperation on an international level.