Certification for E-Waste Recyclers

Do Standards Cover E-waste Recycling?

Companies, government, manufacturers, and individual purchasers are responsible for properly recycling their discarded materials in a safe and environmentally sound manner. In the absence of federal and state oversight, a company may want to consider a recycler that participates in an independent certification program to reduce their liability.

Certifications for Electronics Recyclers

 Selecting a company for managing e-waste is an important step in recycling obsolete electronics.  Companies specializing in proper recycling of obsolete electronics often voluntarily comply with a variety of policies, pledges and practices to ensure that:

  • Obsolete electronics are legitimately reused or their parts recycled 
  • Hazardous materials contained within these items are properly managed
  • Hazardous materials resulting from electronics recycling are not sent overseas without the proper documentation

There are several existing frameworks for certifying that an electronics recycler is conducting the recycling efforts in compliance with all federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations.  There are several frameworks developed by several organizations.  While none of them are required by federal or state law, voluntary compliance with any of them will provide additional assurance that materials are being properly managed.


The United Stated Environmental Protection Agency has a guidance document entitled Responsible Recycling for the Use of Accredited Certification Programs. This is a set of guidelines to be used to assess electronics recyclers’ environmental, worker health and safety, and security practices to provide assurance to the user of the satisfactory nature of the techniques used to manage obsolete electronics.  Electronics recyclers that use these guidelines are certified by independent, third-party verification as adhering to the guidelines.


The e-Stewards recyclers are a group of North American electronics recyclers and asset managers who have been certified as adhering to the e-Stewards standard. The e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment® is a standard of practice employed by electronics recyclers to demonstrate their compliance with all applicable environmental and health and safety laws and regulations. Electronics recyclers that use the e-Stewards standard are documented as adhering to the standard through third-party. 


The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc (ISRI) has designed an environmental management system named the Recycling Industry Operating Standard or RIOS.  RIOS is a system designed to help electronics recyclers manage quality, environmental, and health and safety issues in their operations.  RIOS is the first integrated quality, environmental, and health and safety management system standard developed specifically for the scrap recycling industry.  Electronics recyclers are evaluated to determine if they follow the requirements and then are determined to be accredited.


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world's largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO developed a standard for companies to use to ensure environmental performance called ISO 14001, Environmental Management Systems (EMS). Environmental management systems are used by companies to identify and control the environmental impact of their activities, products or services and to continually improve environmental performance. EMS programs also require that performance be measured and reported. Electronics recyclers with ISO 14001 certification have gone through a rigorous process to demonstrate and document compliance systems and programs to achieve ISO certification.

Return to Interactive Guide Homepage