Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the
RIOS™ Certification Process


What is RIOS™?

The Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) is the only global recycling industry management system standard for quality, environment, health, and safety (QEH&S).

How do I get started?

Getting started with RIOS™ is easy. Step 1 is to make the important commitment to running a healthy, safe, environmentally-responsible facility. Step 2, is to fill out the RIOS™ Membership Application, which will give a licensed copy of the standard, the RIOS™ Implementation Guide, and access to the RIOS™ webinars, videos, and network of individuals who are willing to help you when you get stuck. If you have questions, please contact Darrell Kendall, RIOS™ Executive Director, 202-662-8528.

What is a RIOS™ Certificate of Membership?

In order to complete the RIOS™ certification process, a facility must prove that they are a member of RIOS™ in good standing. To verify this, RIOS™ will produce an annual, facility-specific certificate of membership. This certificate will verify to your auditor that you are in good standing and can be RIOS™ certified. If you did not receive your current certificate of membership, please contact Amy Sailor, RIOS™ Membership Manager, 202-662-8535, to request a replacement. Only Certification Track members will receive a membership certificate.

Certification & Implementation

What is the Audit Process Like for RIOS™?

RIOS™ is a 3rd party audited system that is accredited through ANAB. When your system is nearing full implementation, it is recommended that the facility contact the certification body to schedule their audits. The initial RIOS™ certification audit is a two part process. A stage 1 audit is a document review. The auditor will be on site, and will look to be sure that all of the necessary documentation is in place. They may make some recommendations for improvement by issuing non-conformances. Once those have been addressed, the auditor will come back to the facility for the Stage 2 audit. During this process, the auditor will ensure that procedures are being followed, employees are properly trained, and that the operation is in full compliance with the requirements of the RIOS™ Standard.

Who can Provide a RIOS™ Audit?

There are currently three certification bodies that are able to provide RIOS™ Audits. A complete and up-to-date list can be found here.

How long does it take to get audited?

Audit times for recycling facilities are defined within the RIOS Certification Program. Total time is determined by the number of employees within a facility, along with the complexity and risk of the operations performed at the facility. For a list of audit times, you can review the RIOS Certification Program document, or contact one of the accredited certification bodies.

What does it cost to become RIOS™ certified?

It depends. The easiest way to understand that cost of certification is to think about three primary costs:

  1. RIOS™ Membership- This is a definite cost. To find out exactly how much RIOS™ certification is for your facility, apply now.
  2. Implementation- It takes time a resources to implement a management system. For facilities that choose to use a consultant, that will add costs into the process. Determining how much investment this will require depends on a number of factors, including the existence of effective safety programs, etc.
  3. Audit- The cost of a RIOS™ audit varies greatly depending on the complexities of any given operation. Due to its integrated approach, RIOS™ requires significantly less audit time (therefore less money) than any equivalent combination industry standards. For detailed information about the audit process and the associated costs, please reach out to one of the certification bodies that are accredited to certify facilities to RIOS.

Should I use a consultant to implement my RIOS™ Management System?

RIOS™ is designed in such a way that a facility can become certified without using a consultant. That having been said, companies often hire consultants to help them through the process. If there is a clear deadline for being certified, if financial resources are more plentiful than time available for staff, or if the company is interested in getting professional guidance through the process, then a consultant should be considered.

Consultants can provide a wide range of services at a wide range of prices. From providing a framework with deadlines to a full implementation, the options are endless. Keep in mind that a management system is a living tool that is constant, cyclical development. No matter what route you choose to take, it is important that the person(s) that will be managing the system understand it and the process fully.

Using a Certified Facility

How can I find a RIOS™ certified facility in my area?

You can find a RIOS™ certified facility in your area by searching our database of certified recyclers here.

Should I verify that a facility is certified when I am selecting a vendor?

It is always a good idea to confirm that a facility is currently certified to RIOS™. You can also ask a facility that is not listed on the RIOS™ map as “certified” if they are pursuing RIOS™. In many cases, facilities are working toward certification, but have not completed it. While the goal is for the company to obtain certification, their membership and their effort toward completing the certification is a positive indication that the facility is committed to doing the right thing.

I am not a recycler, but I want to support healthy, safe, and environmentally responsible recycling. What is the best way to do that?

A safer, stronger, more sustainable recycling industry is everyone’s responsibility. Whether you are taking a pick-up load of scrap to your local scrap yard, or you represent a Fortune 100 company that needs complete IT asset disposition services. You can ask the question “are you a certified recycler?” Or do you have an Environmental and Health Safety Management System in place?

General Information

Is RIOS only for Electronics Recyclers?

RIOS is designed for, and has been implemented by recyclers of all commodities: Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals, Paper, Plastic, Tire and Rubber, and the full range of Electronics recyclers, refurbished, and repair facilities. RIOS has been adopted by a larger number of recyclers due to pressures from customers, and requirements contained in other standards, like R2 and E-Stewards.

Who recognizes RIOS Certification?

RIOS certification is recognized by a wide range of suppliers and customers in the recycling chain. In addition, a number of insurance companies recognize the importance and value of a QEHS management system. RIOS certified facilities have also benefited from having a management system in place when dealing with regulators, banks, and activists.