-- By John Lingelbach, Outgoing Executive Director of SERI
In December 2005, the USEPA asked me to facilitate a multi-stakeholder meeting focusing on electronics recycling. That one meeting turned into three years of meetings developing the R2 Standard, and nine years of overseeing the administration and continued development of the R2 Standard and Certification Program. When the first facility was certified in early 2010, no one would have predicted the rapid growth R2 has experienced – there are currently 799 R2 certified electronic recycling facilities and 23% of them located outside the United States. And while we can’t quantify it, perhaps more significant is the number of customers, particularly multinational corporations, that are now requiring R2 of their ITAD and recycling partners.
For the past twelve years I have had the good fortune to work with many excellent organizations and individuals on the R2 program, but now I have decided to step down as executive director of SERI, the non-profit that oversees the administration and continued development of the R2 Certification Program. Serving as executive director has been challenging and extremely gratifying, but it’s time for someone new to take R2 to the next level, to make it a truly international standard.
While R2’s global presence now includes 31 countries, there is still much work yet to do. SERI needs staff based in southeast Asia to educate recyclers and their customers about the value of R2 Certification, and to oversee a strong regional quality oversight effort. There is also China, which presents its own language and cultural challenges. SERI has been making initial inroads in Beijing during the last few months but, again, there is much more work to do.
Each region of the world presents its own sets of challenges when it comes to responsible management of used and end-of-life electronics. SERI recognizes that R2 Certification is not the solution in all situations. The R2 Certification is a tool best suited to promote responsible management practices among “formal” recyclers, typically in developed countries. And yet SERI’s mission is to promote responsible reuse and recycling everywhere. SERI’s new executive director, Corey Dehmey, will play a central role in figuring out how SERI will have an impact in developing countries.
The next few years (at least) will be exciting for SERI. So much can be done to achieve its mission; it will be a matter of prioritizing and undertaking the most impactful actions. I am confident that Corey, working closely with the board of directors and staff, will utilize SERI’s various resources to effectively accomplish its mission.
Thanks to SERI’s excellent and highly committed staff, board, R2 TAC members, and thanks to the entire R2 community and all who have supported R2 in so many ways. I am proud of SERI’s and R2’s progress and impact to date. And I am optimistic about its future!