Electronic Recycling Programs ARPE, R2 and WEEE, and Environmental Regulatory Compliance

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Who doesn’t have old computers, tablets and phones sitting around and waiting to be recycled? With an ever growing list of electronic products, disposing of them is becoming a major environmental issue. Some countries have legislated on this, WEEE in Europe being the most well known. Other parts of the world have proposed voluntary standards such as R2 or ARPE. Regulation and industry standards for electronic waste are more critical than ever as the world now produces over 50 million tonnes of e-waste every year and this is expected to grow by another 30% in the next couple years

What these standards have in common is desire to manage electronic waste in an environmentally sound way. To help manage all the risks and issues related to waste management, these standards often recommend adopting an environmental management system such as ISO 14001, or a system based on the standard. Within these environmental standards there is a requirement to comply and manage legal requirements.

For example, R2 claims it ‘is the leading standard for electronics repair and recycling’ and that it “provides a common set of processes, safety measures, and documentation requirements for businesses that repair and recycle used electronics. R2 is rigorously and independently audited, emphasizing quality, safety, and transparency. Over 530 facilities are currently R2 certified in 21 countries, with more added every day.”

It goes on to require, in section 3(a),

“An R2:2013 electronics recycler shall develop a legal compliance plan to maintain full compliance with all environmental, health, safety, and data security legal requirements applicable to its operations, as well as full compliance with all applicable import and export laws covering shipments of FMs and shipments of untested or non-functioning equipment or components containing FMs. This plan shall be included as a section of its EHSMS.“ https://sustainableelectronics.org/

In Europe, the WEEE directive is the benchmark for electronic waste management.

In a similar vein, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) is the European Community directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) which, together with the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC, became European Law in February 2003. The WEEE Directive set collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods, with a minimum rate of 4 kilograms per head of population per annum recovered for recycling by 2009. The RoHS Directive set restrictions upon European manufacturers as to the material content of new electronic equipment placed on the market. Wikipedia.

These EU level directives have been adopted by all the member countries and are being implemented in various fashions across the board.

In Canada, Nimonik works with a number of electronic recycling organisations to help them ensure they are respecting environmental law. The EPRA association  has developed standards and for electronic recyclers and part of the standards requires them to monitor regulatory change and ensure they are compliant. Nimonik works closely with these organisations to help them meet the requirements of ERPA on an ongoing basis. As electronic waste continues to grow, adopting strong management practices for ongoing compliance will become absolutely essential, Nimonik is here to help.