OCTOBER 2011
                                        

A Closer Look E-mail the author

R2 Stewardship
Stacy Renteria-Vigil • 303-781-1089

While R2 Stewardship has been in business for just a year, the company history is a little longer – seven years, according to Stacy Renteria-Vigil, the operations manager for the company.

Seven years ago, the company operated under another name in Sheridan, Colorado in partnership with another business. When the partnership was dissolved, Stacy and Henry Renteria-Vigil opened R2 in Denver. On opening day, there were three employees; after just a year, there are 17. The company is also working on opening a new drop-off facility in nearby Littleton, Colorado.

The “R2” part of the name refers to the company’s goal of responsible recycling of computers and other electronics. There are different ways of accomplishing that, Renteria-Vigil explained, including repair for resale, and dismantlement for recycling.

Repaired computers are sold to consumers “and we also donate to schools,” Renteria-Vigil said. They sell computers one at a time, or they sell in quantities to larger customers. “I believe that our old technologies can be other people’s new technology,” she said.

Computers and other electronics that can’t be repaired are completely disassembled in the “breakdown department” where components are sorted into different categories for recycling, with plastics, metal, wire, and circuit boards heading to different companies. Renteria-Vigil said that the circuit boards were the most valuable, but everything was recycled, and “we try to keep it within Colorado, when possible.”

The material that comes into R2 arrives from a number of different sources ranging from commercial and government accounts to individual customers who bring in just a piece or two.

Possibly the most visible part of the business is the recycling events that are held all over the area. Some are organized by local towns, while others are run by organizations. At a recent charity-sponsored event, R2 not only accepted electronic scrap at no charge, they also gave away 10 desktop computers to kids who attended.

At quarterly recycling events sponsored by a local town, R2 is the electronics recycler. At those events, residents drop off materials that aren’t acceptable for the usual trash or recycling pickup, and R2 fills two or three 50’ trailers with electronics.

After the events, “we hold onto everything for at least 30 days,” Renteria-Vigil said. They instituted that policy after someone mistakenly recycled a computer that still had needed data on it. They were able to find the computer, but it was such a close call that the company decided it would be better to wait at least 30 days, just in case.

On the other hand, if customers want to make sure data is destroyed, R2 can do that for a small charge. “We customize to our customers’ needs,” Renteria-Vigil said.

One thing she was adamant about was that none of the material R2 processes ever left the country. Not only does R2 not ship overseas, but they make sure that the people they sell to do not ship out of the country.

But that’s not all. “We make sure they all are certified in the same way we are,” she said.

While some companies gnash their teeth about government regulations, R2 sees them as an opportunity. “It’s only bettering us,” Renteria-Vigil said. “Every day is a learning experience.”

Right now, the company is working towards some new certifications. Part of the process is working with auditors who make sure the company is complying with all local, state and federal regulations. Much of it involves paperwork, and Renteria-Vigil said that the auditors are very good about working with them to make sure “all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.”

The new certifications are expensive, Renteria-Vigil said, and they can take up to six months to complete. “We’re hoping to be done in November,” she said.

R2 will be just the fourth recycler in Colorado to have these certifications. Renteria-Vigil said having the certifications would put R2 ahead of their competition if the certifications ever become mandatory. But for now, she said the certifications are mainly for “bragging rights.”

But it’s not all about business. Renteria-Vigil said, “It’s not even like work – it’s like a big old family away from home.” Meanwhile, she has become more conscious of recycling and has been teaching her four sons to “go green” at home. “We believe in what we’re doing,” she said.