If you know anything about the recycling industry, then you know it is often defined by the certifications that a company has. Certifications, particularly R2/RIOS and eStewards, are rites of passage for recycling companies to do business and they work as assurances to customers needing proof of trustworthiness.
Certifications are Not Everything
That’s right, certifications are obviously important. However, they are not a catch-all in finding trustworthy recyclers. Time and time again, certified companies are caught red handed with pollution, downstream or other problems. Just recently, a major Minnesota-based eWaste recycler was caught hoarding 2,500 tons of CRT monitors. The company in question Materials Processing Co. (MPC) had multiple hidden sites for processing waste that seemed to elude auditors and customers. Further investigations found the company to have multiple non-conformances despite the highly regarded eStewards certification. Read about their most recent violation here
Certifications are important, but they do not guarantee security for a customers’ brand nor their liability. Due to the superfund act, if events occur such as the ones with MPC, original customers are responsible not only financially but lawfully for the pollution caused. This can be a major concern for brand identity, brand trust, or brand awareness in sustainability.
What is important?
Making sure the company you’re recycling with is insured is incredibly important. As mentioned above, original customers are financially and lawfully responsible for pollution caused by products and/or the recycling process of the product. Depending on the type of recycling plant and their certifications, they may not even be required to have insurance. Pollution liability is important because if something was to happen at the facility where your items are being recycled, the financial burden will not fall back onto you or your company.
What happens to my waste?; this is one of the first questions you should ask yourself when choosing a recycler. You should make sure the company you choose is committed to doing everything right, all the way through. Make sure there is going to be a new life for every part of the item you are recycling and that nothing will end up in a landfill. It’s also important to check that the company’s process is environmentally friendly, they are adhering to all laws and regulations and they are not emitting poisonous gasses, liquids or other chemicals into the environment because of their process.
Check to make sure the recycler you choose doesn’t have any open violations at the local, state or federal level. Violations could indicate poor practices by the company and you wouldn’t want that to come back to hurt your company’s reputation. You also don’t want to be one who is contributing to pollution.
In conclusion, making sure your recycling company has good practices is more important than certifications, because a simple piece of paper isn’t enough.