As the problems associated with the relatively new electronics waste stream come to light, various programs are emerging to help customers, recyclers, governments and others navigate the complex and sometimes shady recycling industry. The challenge is to understand the differences between the various programs so you can make an informed choice. With so much at stake – legal liability, brand name, and long term and devastating impacts on health, water and air – it’s critical to recognize the differences.
As more programs emerge, the Basel Action Network will provide more side-by-side comparisons.
e-Stewards and R2 certification programs compared
In the United States, from 2006 – 2008, the EPA facilitated a multi-stakeholder process to define responsible recycling (“R2”) practices. Participants included representatives from the leading scrap association, recyclers, state and local governments, EPA, and public interest groups (BAN and the Electronics TakeBack Coalition). After two and a half years of standards development, a majority decision was made — without support from the environmental community — to field test the draft R2 Practices when it was known that they would violate import laws in most developing countries. As a result, participants from the environmental community left the process and started the e-Stewards certification program, at the request of leaders in the recycling industry. Besides ensuring compliance with international waste trade laws, the e-Stewards Standard was able to address other shortcomings of R2 such as prohibiting use of municipal landfills and incinerators for hazardous e-waste as well as the use of prison labor for toxic and data sensitive materials. Furthermore, the e-Stewards Standard provides more protection for workers’ health and safety.
For more details about the differences between R2 and e-Stewards see these documents: