e-Waste Recycling Certification

  • Overview
  • Responsible Recycling (R2) Certification
  • Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) Certification
  • e-Stewards Certification
  • Benefits of Certification
  • Why Work With NSF?
  • Certification Process

Only a small percentage of e-waste is recycled. According to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, the United States discards over 2.35 million tons of electronic products annually, and only about 25 percent is recycled. Even when recycled, e-waste may not be managed responsibly, resulting in environmental and health risks from hazardous materials as well as data security risks related to data destruction.

Industry certification programs set requirements for safer recycling and disposal of electronic waste. The Responsible Recycling (R2), Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) and e-Stewards programs include guidelines that define responsible and effective e-waste management.

NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR), a subsidiary of NSF International, is fully accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to handle your certification requirements for R2, RIOS™ and e-Stewards.

Responsible Recycling (R2) Certification

Responsible Recycling (R2) is the leading standard for electronics repair and recycling. The R2 Standard provides a common set of processes, safety measures and documentation requirements for businesses that repair and recycle used electronics. Six-hundred facilities are currently R2 certified in 21 countries, with more added every day.

R2 practices include general principles and specific practices for recyclers disassembling or reclaiming used electronics equipment including equipment exported for refurbishment and recycling.

R2 certification addresses:

  • An in-place environmental, health and safety management system (EHSMS)
  • Worker health and safety and environmental protection
  • Material management and recovery planning
  • Traceability and accountability (downstream due diligence throughout the recycling stream, including international vendors)
  • Data security
  • Insurance requirements
  • Legal compliance

SERI is the housing body for the R2 Standard and works with a coalition of partners to raise awareness of electronics repair and recycling issues around the world. NSF-ISR is an independent certification body for R2, emphasizing quality, safety, and transparency.

You can also become a Certified Electronics Recycler® by certifying to both R2 and the Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) at the same time.

Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) Certification

The Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) is an integrated quality, environmental, health and safety management system certification. By integrating the management system, recyclers are able to more effectively manage their system, which results in stronger health and safety programs, greater environmental responsibility and better operational efficiency.

Whether recycling paper, plastic, metals, textiles, electronics or tires, recyclers of all commodities are able to adopt RIOS™. RIOS™ is appropriate for both small and large firms anywhere in the world. You can also become a Certified Electronics Recycler® by certifying to both RIOS™ and Responsible Recycling (R2) standard at the same time.

e-Stewards Certification

The e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment is a comprehensive set of performance requirements created specifically for the electronics recycling and asset recovery industries. ISO 14001 is fully integrated into the e-Stewards Standard, resulting in dual certification to both ISO 14001 and the e-Stewards Standard in one audit process.

e-Stewards is applicable internationally and meets:

  • International waste trade laws
  • Social accountability standards
  • Data privacy requirements of customers
  • Environmental and health and safety management system norms

e-Stewards recyclers abide by a rigorous set of requirements and do not export hazardous electronic waste to developing countries or allow such toxic materials to be disposed of in municipal landfills. They also ensure that industry workers are protected from occupational hazards.

Benefits of Certification

Federal agencies are now banned from disposing of electronic waste materials in landfills or incinerators and must use third-party certified e-scrap recyclers. At least 25 U.S. states also have some form of e-scrap recycling legislation.

Corporations are likewise requiring certified organizations to handle their e-scrap. Certification can position your organization for federal contracts, to meet state regulations and to participate in corporate recycling opportunities. Certification distinguishes your company as an industry leader and can position you as a preferred supplier. Let us help you earn certification and mark your organization as a leader in responsible e-waste recycling.

Certification assures that individuals, businesses and government agencies can be confident that their electronic waste will be disposed of in a responsible way ensuring ongoing commitment to our earth.

Additional benefits of certification can include:

  • Environmental health and safety compliance assurance
  • Enhanced community relations
  • Increased consumer confidence
  • Workforce benefits such as reduced accident and injury frequency rates as well as reduced short- and long-term liabilities
  • Enhanced insurability potential
  • Enhanced bottom line through lower processing and product costs

Confirm your commitment to operational excellence with e-waste certification.

Why Work With NSF?

NSF-ISR is an expert in the e-waste industry. You can be confident in your certification when working with an organization that has 70 years of standards, quality, safety and environmental management experience. Our approach ensures that audits focus on performance, not just strict conformance. Our stringent auditor training and ongoing evaluations ensure audit consistency.

Our auditors are experts in your industry and can anticipate issues that may impact your audit experience. Our customers can count on receiving the highest level of service from their certification body when they partner with us.

Our program managers and auditors are industry experts and receive the latest training. Program managers are responsible for the technical integrity of our internal and external process to ensure your certification runs smoothly. Our process effectiveness approach helps you leverage your quality management system to align business goals with client satisfaction for optimum performance.

Certification Process


Your company fills out an application and we issue a quotation and terms and conditions.


We assign an audit team and create a schedule.

Stage 1 Readiness Review

We review the manual, documentation, objectives and targets to determine conformance with the standard and readiness to move forward with the process audit.

Stage 2 Process Audit

Once your documentation meets the standard requirements, we conduct an on-site review verifying your processes match your written system.

Nonconformance Closure (if applicable)

If you have any nonconformances from the stage 2 audit, you have 90 days to respond and show evidence of correction.

Certification Committee

After our auditor closes any nonconformances, the certification committee provides a final review of the entire audit package. Once approved, you receive a certificate for a three-year period.

Surveillance Audits

These audits review a sample of your system (not a full system review) and are required one year from the stage 2 dates and once every year thereafter.

Recertification Audits

Three months prior to the expiration of your certification, a recertification audit is required to determine continued conformance to the standard. Once completed, the certification decision process starts again.

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  • Open What documents are needed to start the process?

    Depending on the certification you choose to pursue, you need to download the standard document, along with any guidance.

    • R2: Download the standard and guidance document here.
    • RIOS: You will receive the standard and guidance documents after you complete your membership here.
    • e-Stewards: Purchase and download the standard (which includes ISO 14001) here.
    • ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems: Purchase the standard here.
    • OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety: Purchase the standard here.
  • Open What is a license agreement?
    • R2: An agreement between the facility becoming certified and SERI, the standard owner, which stipulates the terms of use for the R2 logo, trademark and certification
    • RIOS: Grants each facility a license to use one copy of the standard, an implementation guide, and other materials developed for the benefit of members
    • e-Stewards: An agreement that states the terms of use for downloading the standard
  • Open How much data and records should I have before scheduling the stage 1 readiness review?

    An organization should have at least three months of data and records available for review prior to scheduling the stage 1 readiness review with NSF.

  • Open What type of evidence is needed for certification?
    • R2: Evidence of a full internal audit, a fully compliant closure plan, up-to-date and complete due diligence and approval of all downstream vendors, a legal compliance plan and an approved license agreement
    • RIOS: Evidence of management review and full internal audit, written quality, environmental, health and safety (QEH&S) goals, a documented RIOS footprint and approved evidence of membership
    • e-Stewards:  Evidence of management review and full internal audit, an up-to-date and written plan for downstream management of electronic equipment, a fully compliant closure plan, evidence of legal compliance being met, evidence of a signed license agreement and an organizational ownership chart

    These are main points and not an exhaustive list.

  • Open How do I know what standard I should become certified to?

    The first priority for determining your scope of certifications should consider any specific customer requirements you may have.

    The second consideration should be previous experience with certification(s). If you do not have familiarity with any certifications, it is best to implement fewer standards rather than taking on too much at once.

    The third consideration should be price.

  • Open What or whom is the scope of certification applicable to?
    • R2: Applicable to all organizations that collect, refurbish, recycle, resell, demanufacture, broker or recover assets from electronic equipment.  Certification is also applicable to all electronics recycling activities at a facility, meaning no processes can be excluded.
    • RIOS: Includes, but is not limited to, recyclers, shredders, refurbishers, resellers and brokers across commodity streams, including electronics, glass, metal, rubber, plastics, paper and other recyclable commodities.
    • e-Stewards: Applicable to all sites in the same country that are processing electronic equipment (e.g. refurbishers, asset managers, dismantlers, shredders and materials recovery facilities).  Certification is not applicable to intermediaries (e.g. brokers or logistics companies), home-based operations or entities that only collect electronic equipment without conducting recycling operations.
  • Open What needs to be considered when moving to a new location or being acquired by another organization?

    Please remember that certificates are issued to a facility address under the applicable company name and represent the information that has been reviewed and approved.  If changes such as acquisitions or relocation occur, the certificate may no longer be valid.  As soon as you are aware a change has occurred, please notify us so we can determine the appropriate actions needed to re-issue the certificate.

  • Open How long does the certification process take?

    The average timeframe it takes a client to obtain certification is about four months.  This is completely dependent on the client and how prepared it is.

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