How to Find a Responsible Recycler
When you recycle, do you know where your materials are going?

Anytime we drop a can in a blue bin or take our electronics in to be recycled, we’re trying to do the right thing — but if those recyclers aren’t in turn doing the right thing, our good intentions lack good results.

So how do you find a responsible recycler, someone you can trust? One way is to look for certification: the R2/RIOS program is a demonstration of a recycler’s commitment to the highest standards of the industry.

How Does Certification Help?

A RIOS or R2/RIOS certified facility undergoes periodic audits by an accredited third party who makes sure the facility is adhering to responsible recycling standards. In addition to meeting standards in areas of quality, environmental responsibility, and health and safety, the facilities perform proper management and execution of exports, providing confidence to customers and partners that materials being transported overseas are safe and legal.

Here’s what certification ensures from a consumer’s point of view:

Health and Safety. While safety may not be on your mind when you recycle, it’s a huge deal in the recycling industry, which can be dangerous at times. Complying with safety regulations “is the difference between guys going home and spending time with their kids at night and getting injured at work,” says Darrell Kendall, director of RIOS. “You want your employees to know and believe that they’re valued members of your business family.”

Workers deserve a safe environment, and you can help them have that by giving business to the kind of companies that make well-being a priority.

Quality. From the recycler’s perspective, the industry is crowded. “It’s a competitive marketplace,” Kendall says. “If you talk to a ferrous recycler, they all love to tell you that there are about 150 too many shredders in the industry right now.”

That means recyclers need to find a way to differentiate themselves — and getting certified is one way to do that. Argus Connection, an IT services company that repairs and resells old computers, as well as deconstructs electronics for recycling, has found certification helps them stand out, attract new customers and promote goodwill among employees.

“Certification legitimizes a facility with customers and proves that the facility is doing the right thing,” says Stanley Walter, president at Argus Connection. “It rewards those who are willing to commit to higher standards.”

Because recyclers want to gain business — and consumers’ trust — many do get certified to prove their services are at the highest standards. That’s a positive thing, because it means there are more good options in the marketplace.

Protection of the Environment. When you recycle, “you want to make sure whatever material you give to a recycler won’t be landfilled,” Kendall says. It’s important to have full confidence that your materials will be handled in an environmentally conscious way. And while it’s difficult for an individual to discern what goes on at any given recycler, the third-party audits can do that work for you.

Certified facilities comply with environmental regulations regarding noise, air emissions, storm water, oil storage, hazardous materials and solid wastes. They also promote resource conservation and reduce demand for natural resources by requiring the reuse and recycling of materials. Each facility receives the RIOS Implementation Guide, offering tools and templates to help companies establish and maintain environmental standards across all areas of operation.

Next page: How to Choose a Recycler