Why PK Metals decided to pursue R2/RIOS

With more government and businesses becoming cognizant of the benefits of using Certified Recyclers, more and more electronics recyclers are taking the leap and signing on for R2 and RIOS certifications.

Currently, more than 250 facilities, many of them in the U.S., are certified to the R2 standard. This certification ensures producers of electronic scrap that the obsolete computers, monitors, and other goods that the companies handling their materials are doing so in a safe, secure and responsible manner.

What many companies are finding is that obtaining the dual RIOS and R2 certifications are opening doors to new markets for them.

The Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ or “RIOS”™ is the management system standard for quality, environment, and health & safety (QEH&S) specifically for the scrap recycling industry.  RIOS™ includes the operational advancements found in ISO 9001 (Q), ISO 14001 (E), and OHSAS 18001 (H&S) — all integrated into one system, so that an organization can avoid the hassle and expense of implementing each of them individually. RIOS™ can also be achieved more efficiently and at a lower cost than other standards.

The R2/RIOS™ program was created solely for electronics providers and producers to recycle their products responsibly with the highest standards.  R2/RIOS™ allows electronics facilities to meet electronics standards combined with general better practice standards. The R2/RIOS™ program makes it easy to gain both certifications at the same time.

“It has helped us tremendously,” said Philip Fava, CEO of PK Metals of Coram, N.Y. The company recently completed RIOS and R2 certifications at its facility.

“Going through the certification process is definitely a helpful tool,” said William Rouse, the company’s safety officer.  “All of our OEM clients have been very pleased with our internal audits as a result.”

Becoming a RIOS and R2 certified company starts by becoming a member of ISRI and joining the RIOS program. This gives the uncertified companies access to exactly what is in the standard, and some steps on how to prepare for the first visit by the third-party auditors who will determine if a facility has met all of the requirements to become certified.  Then, workshops are held to train the implementation team of a particular company or facility, to make sure everyone understands the requirements of the certification program and what their responsibilities are to prepare for the third-party auditors.

There is a great deal of organization that must go on before the auditors arrive, Rouse said.

“For us, we had policies and procedures governing environmental procedures, safety, emergency management,” said Rouse. “However, many of those policies were verbal. Going through the certification process enabled us to get all of our policies written down, gathered in place and have everyone on the same page.”

After on-site inspections, audits and employee interviews, certification can be granted. Renewal audits are also conducted to ensure continuing compliance. The entire process can take 18-24 months.

Fava, whose company started as a metals recycler, said the certifications have helped him shape a better business.

“We have found that recycling electronics is completely different from recycling other types of scrap,” he said.

Plus, industrial and governmental clients often want to see some sort of certification for quality, environmental, health and safety management system in place, he said. “They’re partial to management systems,” he said. “They want to see how we handle the material, what we do with it.”


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