Through a grant program, wireless trackers have been shipped out to R2-certified facilities on a rolling basis since December 2019. | MyCreative / Shutterstock

R2-certified electronics recycling and reuse companies across North America are following the movement of material using technology provided through a SERI grant initiative.

Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), which administers the R2 certification standard, has paid $10,000 to provide one tracker to each of 100 companies, said Corey Dehmey, executive director of SERI. The grant program was first established in December 2019, and wireless trackers have been shipped out to R2-certified facilities on a rolling basis since then.

The tracking devices were provided through the Green Tracking Service, which is run by the San Francisco Bay Area company Greenlyfocus. Facility operators attach trackers to used electronics, and the trackers use GPS and cell tower connections to periodically report their locations. The Basel Action Network, which founded the e-Stewards certification standard, also offers a similar service, which it calls EarthEye.

“The intent here was to give R2 facilities the opportunity to try it out and see if it can be a valuable piece of information in their due diligence,” Dehmey said.

SERI won’t have access to the locational data; the organization simply wants to hear about the R2-certified facilities’ experiences using the technology, Dehmey said. He declined to provide a list of companies receiving the trackers.

The vast majority of devices were sent to U.S. and Canadian facilities, said Dennis Ward, CEO of Greenlyfocus. So far, a few have been deployed (Dehmey noted that the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 slowed the roll out of the program).

Eventually, Greenlyfocus plans to produce a redacted report showing where the wireless trackers ended up, Ward said. In addition to providing processors with more visibility into their downstream flow charts, the technology gives electronics recycling companies the opportunity to collaborate to improve the industry’s reputation, he said.

“SERI has given them a playing field and the tools so that they can work together and self-regulate,” Ward said.

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