Fundamental to the R2 Standard is the emphasis on reuse as the best approach to managing electronics. Reuse extends the useful life of electronics, thereby reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing new products. In addition to the widely recognized environmental benefits, reuse also provides economic and social benefits by bridging the digital divide with affordable electronics – particularly in emerging markets. In many regions of the world, the technology boom of the past decade has been fueled in large part by access to affordable used electronics.
Under R2, reusable electronics can be fully functional, or they can have properly working and tested key functions (such as a laptop with shortened battery life, or a cell phone that no longer takes pictures). The R2 Standard maximizes the reuse of devices in both categories. Provision 6.c.2 of the Standard requires that the key functions of all devices sold or donated for reuse must be working and tested, with test results recorded and verified. If any secondary functions do not work, this must be disclosed to potential buyers. Importantly, the testing must be done by a qualified technician – it is not simply a matter of “powering on” by a warehouse employee.
R2 Provision 6.c.3 permits recyclers without the necessary internal technical resources to outsource testing and refurbishing to a qualified downstream vendor who meets the due diligence requirements of Provision 6.c.3 and 5.e. However, in order to control the flow of untested and non-working equipment in the reuse market, the outsourced refurbisher cannot re-sell the equipment for reuse unless it has been tested and verified working. If the equipment is not repairable it must be recycled – it may not be sold to another downstream refurbisher or broker.
Bottom Line: The R2 Standard creates a balance; maximizing reuse while imposing strict requirements regarding the testing and sale of used electronics. This combination protects the environment and helps generate economic opportunity in emerging markets.