Processes and Standardization : Need of the hour in the waste management industry

 E-waste recycling, when carried out in an unregulated, ad-hoc, unsafe and crude manner, not only gives inconsistent and substandard output quality but also

  • Exposes the personnel involved to many toxic materials, unhealthy work environment and unscientific practices giving rise to accidents, short term and long term health ailments.
  • Leads to toxic material, acids, toxic compounds and residues, toxic water / solvents being released into the environment leading to air / soil / water pollution.
  • Does not exercise any control / restraint regarding to whom the processed e-waste and specifically the toxic e-waste material is being sent and whether it is compliance of the law or laws in both the countries (when shipments travel trans boundary).
  • Disbars such recyclers from accepting e-waste from several nations, governments, public bodies, private enterprises and other sources as their e-waste processing site is not certified to standards like e-Stewards or R2.

To combat this world wide challenge, all stakeholders are exerting pressure on the industry by insisting that recyclers establish and implement environment, health and safety management systems (EHSMS). In this context, the typical applicable standards are

ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) ISO 14001(Environmental Management System) OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management System) SA 8000(Social Accountability)

To define and set a uniform benchmark of an EHSMS and legal compliance framework specifically for e-waste processing, some leading world bodies like the Basel Action Network (BAN) and theResponsible Recycling (R2) Consortium (comprising the US EPA and e-waste generating and recycling stakeholders) have published standards viz the e-Stewards and the R2 respectively. Correspondingly, all e-waste generators are gradually looking to give their e-waste only to those recyclers who are certified to thesee-Stewards/R2 standardsas it assures them of the recycler’s adherence to EHSMS and legal compliance.

For the recycler, certification to these standards greatly minimizes the concerns listed above, ensures high productivity, consistency of output, no bar on sourcing e-waste leading to high volumes, reduced per tonne processing costs and low insurance costs so business becomes more profitable. Hence, recyclers have to quickly adopt these standards and get certified on the same.

How do we help e-waste recyclers get process oriented: At Respose, we have in place a comprehensive and rigorous approach to help our clients define, implement, institutionalize and review their e-waste recycling processes. A typical roadmap towards certification involves following phases

Phase 1 : Scoping, gap analysis, risk assessment
Phase 2 : Develop processes, train the workforce, implement and monitor
Phase 3 : Certification
Phase 4 : Steady state

The same services are also available for other types of waste management with necessary modifications in the scope and execution.

Some of the projects undertaken:

  1. Helped upgrade the Quality, Environment, Health and Safety Management System (QEHSMS) at one of our clients processing facilities. Client is certified to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. We help sustain these certifications at the client end. Conduct comprehensive IER and HIRA to identify environmental and health / safety risks and develop risk mitigation plans for the same.
  2. Helped one of our clients select the E-waste processing technology and equipment keeping safety considerations in line with the principles of safe by Engineering design, then by process control and finally by use of PPE as mandated by the standards. Designed the infrastructure, physical equipment layout, material storage and flow, security etc. in line with the expectations of the e-Stewards / R2 standards.

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