e-Stewards and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Given the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to protect the health and safety of our e-Stewards certified recyclers and refurbishers as well as e-Stewards auditors, flexible solutions are necessary. Until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control, some adjustments of how and when your audit will be conducted are likely to be necessary.  Please find answers to possible questions you may have explaining how our program will adjust to the current challenges:

Are you an organizations that has been wishing to become e-Stewards certified but has been unable to do so because of the pandemic?

Fully remote audits for Stage 2 audits are now allowed as long as the Certifying Body believes that the objectives of a Stage 2 audit can be achieved remotely. For more information, contact your Certifying Body and see our CB Guidance document.

What can we do if our facility(ies) had to close or scale down operations significantly due to the COVID-19 outbreak and we are due for an audit during the time we are closed? What can we do if the key people within our Organization are sick or otherwise unavailable due to the COVID-19 outbreak and a successful audit is therefore not possible?

Please contact your CB as early as possible to discuss options that might be available to you. You can find contact information of each CBs’ program managers responsible for the e-Stewards certification on our website.

If a recertification audit or other recertification requirements cannot be completed prior to the expiration of the e-Stewards certification, CBs can extend the certification’s validity up to six months from when the certification expires. However, only CBs are in a position to do so, and only for reasons directly related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please note if your certificate expires, the expiration of the renewed certification should be based on the original recertification cycle. For example, when an Organization is recertified, it will not be for three more years from the recertification decision, but three years from the original expiration date.

What can we do if we have an audit scheduled within the next months and it is not possible to fulfil while due to the view of the participants and their safety? Are remote audits possible?

All four e-Stewards accredited CBs can conduct remote audits. We encourage, where possible, that audits are done remotely as long as social distancing remains a local recommendation. Since this is a relatively new way of conducting audits, please contact your CB earlier than usual to (re)schedule your audits.

You can find contact information of each CBs’ program managers responsible for the e-Stewards certification on our website.

Will the timeline for the implementation of the new e-Stewards V4 change?

We have updated the deadlines in the e-Stewards Transition Plan from V3.1 to V.4. V3.1 audits will now be possible until December 31, 2020 whereas the date by which all recyclers have to be certified to V4 has not changed. We will keep monitoring and assessing the situation and will adjust the Transition Plan if necessary.

Are there any changes to the e-Stewards Standard for the time during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Yes. Due to a rapidly growing demand for work-at-home second-hand equipment, and the difficulty in sourcing replacement batteries to make such equipment operational, we have made a four month deviation (March 23, 2020 – August 1, 2020) to e-Stewards Standard on battery health requirements. You can view this deviation here.

What can we do if a compulsory onsite audit of an IDP is necessary but impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Upcoming compulsory onsite audits of IDPs (Immediate Downstream Processors/Providers) as required by Section of V4.0 or Section 8.9.3 (d) of V3.1 that are impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic can be replaced by a desk audit. However, onsite audits have to be scheduled as soon as such audits are possible.

Guidance for Certifying Bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed here.