Provision 6 of the R2 Standard for electronics recycling requires that R2-certified companies implement a written quality assurance plan if they are directing electronics to reuse. According to Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), a quality assurance plan includes the controls needed to ensure that a process is effective. Provision 6 of the Standard specifically pertains to the testing and reuse of equipment and components. R2 companies must verify the accuracy and effectiveness of their testing methods.
In its latest R2 Update, SERI outlined the required elements for a quality plan that meets the R2 testing requirement of Provision 6(c)1 and 6(c)2:
- Describe how you verify that your testing equipment or software is working properly. This includes how test equipment is calibrated and ensuring you have the most current software patches.
- Outline the qualifications employees need to adequately perform the testing, troubleshooting or repairs. Employees should have some level of IT training or experience. Describe what type of training is needed and how employee competency levels are verified.
- Describe how test results are verified. Separating testing and verification duties helps ensure checks and balances in your process. Quality controls should include, at minimum, a sampling of equipment by a different employee to verify the testing was performed correctly.
- Know that failures will inevitably occur. The first indicator of a problem with your process may be the absence of known failures. Having a process for managing failures is critical. Identify and label non-conforming products and ensure they are not mixed in with or sold as working products. Non-conforming products may be repaired, sold to a qualified vendor as R2/Ready for Repair or recycled.
- Maintain accurate records. Test records validate the equipment’s functionality and legitimize your process. For each test, there must be a complete and accurate record of the test results. This can be as simple as a checklist that shows successes and failures.
An effective quality plan is based on best practices found in quality standards such as ISO 9001 or RIOS. A company with either of these certifications has already demonstrated that the necessary quality plans are in place and, therefore, a separate quality plan for R2:2013 is not required.
Photo: computer boards for recycling via Shutterstock.