When executed properly, a Bill of Lading (BOL) provides a good record of the transaction and can be a useful tool in documenting the flow of products and material from one location to another – both of which are key components of the R2 Standard. However, incomplete or inaccurate BOLs will raise serious questions during an audit about the legitimacy of shipments. Listed below are some recommended practices for completing BOLs that will provide the evidence necessary for a successful audit.
Creating the BOL
- Ensure the “Ship From” and “Ship To” names and addresses are complete and valid. A P.O. box or an address for a “FOB Shipper” will not suffice for Focus Material shipments.
- Be as specific as possible in the description of the materials so that auditors looking at the BOL will be able to verify what materials have been shipped and their condition. An alternative option would be to attach a packing list with a detailed description of each pallet or box to the BOL.
- Under Provision 6.c, shipments of reusable equipment must be identified with one of three labels: R2/Ready for Reuse, R2/Ready for Resale, or R2/Ready for Repair. It is recommended that this identification appear on the BOL or attached packing slip(s) so that the auditor can quickly determine the type of shipment.
- Ensure that required declarations are made so that any legal requirements are met. For instance, lead acid, lithium, and lithium ion batteries must be declared as hazardous materials and specific descriptions with UN numbers must be used to meet shipping regulations.
- Carrier information should be documented on the BOL, including the carrier name, trailer number, and the number of the seal (if used).
Making the Shipment
- Once the trailer is loaded the shipper should sign the BOL, releasing the material to the driver. The driver must also sign the BOL, accepting the material from the shipper.
- Occasionally buyers of material may want to set up a “blind shipment” of Focus Materials to prevent the seller from knowing the destination of the shipment. This does not conform to R2 requirements because it prevents the seller from tracking throughput as required in Provision 7.
- Ensure your shipment makes it to the destination on your BOL. Ask for a copy of the final BOL that has been signed by the receiver. This alerts you if the buyer of the material changed the destination while the shipment was in route.
Following these steps should produce an effective record for your audits. Additional documentation such as packing lists, invoices, sea waybills, booking confirmations, etc. should also be properly executed and retained with the BOL. Review your records and make sure your process is producing complete and accurate BOLs.