The SRI Roundtable develops guidance

The SRI Roundtable has convened an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to consult with key stakeholders the development of ‘Guidance Principles for the Sustainable Management of Secondary Metals’ (Guidance Principles).

The aim of the Guidance Principles is to provide a credible global framework for the sustainable management of secondary metals.

The Guidance Principles aim to provide guidance to Economic Operators (e.g. individuals, micro-, small and medium enterprises, large enterprises) in addition to governments, sustainability standard organisations, CSOs and other interested parties willing to improve practices in the sustainable management of secondary metals. The Guidance Principles differentiate between various types and scales of activities along the secondary metal value chain and as such do not prescribe a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The Guidance Principles also assist those that wish to demonstrate that their practices comply with the assurance systems and traceability schemes.

This ISO IWA process is a consensus building one, included 4 Workshop Sessions followed by public reviews and was running until end of 2016.

This activity was directed by the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) on behalf of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and supervised by the SRI Roundtable, which is hosted by the World Resources Forum (WRF).

If you are interested in joining the ISO IWA process, please check further below about How to participate?

If you want to be informed on dates of our next events or just would like to follow our activities, please register here.

The Motivation

International efforts on standards’ development and traceability mechanisms have emerged over the last years in order to ensure sustainable extraction and production of certain raw materials, such as the well-known Fairtrade label to certify extraction activities of gold and other precious metals. However, many other product clusters as well as additional life-cycle stages of products, such as the recycling phase, are still not taken into account.

In this regard, no traceability mechanisms exist for secondary resources and hence their recovery takes place without any oversight or guidance, often using methods that pose risk to health and safety of workers and local communities, as well as to the environment. Moreover, responsible recycling practices of secondary resources (e.g. gold or platinum), which are emerging in developing countries on a small-scale, are usually developed inadvertently and the metals recovered in socially and environmentally responsible ways do not have access to the international commodity markets; nor are they recognized with better prices or otherwise.

The Scope

The Guidance Principles apply to the entire secondary metal value chain. They primarily address the environmental, social and economic  impacts occurring in the most critical steps of the secondary metal value chain, i.e. collection and  preparation of waste that contains metals, as well as the metallurgical processes used to extract and refine secondary metals. Most prevalent are the severe negative impacts on human health due to uncontrolled practices and working conditions,  including child labour.

The Guidance Principles are globally applicable. Geographic and metal-specific adaptations may be considered in future versions.


The scope of the Guidance Principles covers all waste that contains metals, hazardous or  non-hazardous, from e.g. used computers, phones, electric appliances, batteries,  accumulators, cars ships and packaging as well as from construction and other industrial processes.


Processes covered by the scope of Guidance Principles are indicated in the figure below:


Economic operators

Compliance with Principles and Objectives only applies to Economic  Operators involved in the collection, preparation and metallurgical processing of waste that contains metals. The Principles and Objectives are adapted to the type of the Economic Operators’ activities:

  • Subsistence Activities (SA)
  • Unofficial Business Activities (UBA)
  • Official Business Activities (OBA)

The Guidance Principles also include sustainability and traceability requirements, which apply  to all Economic Operators in the secondary metal value chain and need to be verified as explained in the Guidance Principles.

*According to the Guidance Principles:

  • Subsistence Activities (SA) refer to those economic activities conducted by economic operators (mostly individuals and families) who earn a wage that is barely sufficient to support or maintain themselves and is below the minimum tax threshold required per national laws and regulations to pay taxes.
  • Unofficial Business Activities (UBA) include those economic activities conducted by economic operators non constituted as legal entities, with income above the living wage as well as the minimum tax threshold and that purposely desire to bypass national and/or local laws and regulations. These activities are not monitored by any government.
  • Official Business Activities (OBA) refer to those economic activities conducted by economic operators constituted as legal entities which are under government regulation, taxation and observation.


The Process

The Guidance Principles are being developed through an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) under the International Standards Organization (ISO). The proposal for an IWA on these Guidance Principles was officially accepted by the ISO Technical Management Board in April 2015 as the ISO IWA 19.

This ISO IWA 19 process aims to achieve a multi-stakeholder consensus on the Guidance Principles and their implementation mechanisms, in line with ISEAL Standard-setting Code. This process included 4 international Workshop Sessions for consultation to the members of the ISO IWA 19, combined with local stakeholder consultations in India, Kenya and Peru and web-based international public reviews. The process has been completed by end of 2016.

The following were the Workshop Sessions of the ISO IWA 19, from which 2 were be face-to-face:

In order to ensure the participation of certain key stakeholders, local consultations have been taken place in the following countries:

  • Peru (10-11 February 2016, Lima)
  • Kenya (27 February 2016, Nairobi)
  • India (28 June 2016, Bangalore)
  • India  (28 July to 18 August 2016, Delhi)



Public review

The working drafts of the Guidance Principles have been published for public review. The following was the timeline for the 2 rounds of public review of the different working drafts:

How to participate

The ISO IWA 19 process includes the participation of the following key stakeholder (non-exclusive list) groups:

  • Metal and recycling associations and industries
  • Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises (MSMEs) on metal recycling activities in developing and emerging economies
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and related industry associations
  • Standard setting initiatives for sustainable metals
  • ISO members
  • NGOs
  • Government representatives
  • International (intergovernmental) organizations and cooperation agencies
  • Experts and research institutions related to the topic

There are two ways to get involved in the process:

  • By becoming a member of the ISO IWA 19: Members of the process can participate in the workshop sessions, have access to internal consultations of the working drafts of the Guidance Principles as well as submit comments during the public review.  If you want to become a member of the ISO IWA 19 or read about their roles and responsibilities, please check the “Resolution on Terms of Reference for participation in the ISO IWA 19”.
  • By participating in the public review: Participants from the general public can submit comments to the working drafts of the Guidance Principles during the public review. If you want to participate please check the agenda of the public review for your timely participation and send us your comments with this template once a draft is available.

If you want to be informed on dates of our next events or just would like to follow our activities, please register here.