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RCI’s Certification Process Featured in Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine

Posted on August 9, 2017

Today’s post is a two-fer…

Part One:  Kristin Smith, editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine, posed the question, “How does a facility become certified by the Recycling Certification Institute (RCI)?”  While every facility is different, the CORR Protocol follows a basic set of compulsory elements while being flexible enough to accommodate a variety of business and operational models.  The article talks about the process from a relatively high level, so please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to discuss in greater detail how an RCI-Certification can work for your facility.

Part Two:  The second part is actually an article within an article, modified to fit this format.  Kristin Smith and Meri Soll talk about StopWaste‘s goal of leveling the playing field in C&D facility recycling performance reporting.  StopWaste is a public agency in Alameda County responsible for a variety of successful resource management policies and programs in their community.  Through StopWaste’s collaborative efforts, numerous cities have signed on in support of StopWaste’s program that provides incentives for certain C&D facilities to become third-party certified to meet the requirements of the participating cities, CalGreen (State of California), and USGBC’s LEED Pilot Credit criteria (MRpc87).

Thank you to Kristin for the opportunity to explain our process and to StopWaste for their ongoing support of a level playing field through a National Standard for third-party certification.

You can read the stories in their original format in the July 2017 edition of Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine or check out the modified text version below.


Up to standard

Receiving a certification from the Recycling Certification Institute requires a number of steps, including data gathering and documentation.

How does a facility become certified by the Recycling Certification Institute (RCI)? This is an often-asked question that needs context for its answer. The reason for this is because, frequently, there are other related questions and drivers for the question being asked in the first place.

The Milwaukee-based Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), through its members and other stakeholders, like the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both based in Washington, had received comments, inquiries and concerns regarding accuracy of the numbers reported by construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facilities.

With many local and state jurisdictions measuring the recycling/diversion rates as well as the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program awarding credits for C&D recovery and recycling, the importance of ensuring a high level of confidence in the accuracy of the recycling and recovery rates reported by the C&D facilities became a key issue that required addressing.

The CDRA responded by engaging these and other industry stakeholders to develop a process that would professionally review and certify the recycling/recovery rates of these operations. The Certification of Recycling Rates (CORR) Protocol was developed to International Organization of Standardization (ISO)-level standards and the RCI, with offices in Sacramento, California, was created to meet the growing need for reliable recycling and recovery reporting by C&D facilities, which are verified and certified through the CORR Protocol.

following the steps

The first step in becoming certified is registration. RCI website”, www.recycling, provides information on process and requirements. One of the key requirements is that a facility must have certified scales.

While that may seem obvious, in plenty of instances, C&D facilities may be legally operating under their state or city permits without scales. It is not unreasonable for them to assume they could be certified under RCI’s program. However, the CORR Protocol does require scales because it produces a set of records that can be audited and verified, and scale weights are more accurate and reliable than estimated volumes.

The operator identifies the facility name and location and provides contact and payment information. Following the initial submittal, RCI may contact the facility and conduct a brief interview to determine eligibility and provide some assistance to the facility going forward.

Once RCI approves the establishment of the account, the facility can then enter more information about the operation. Information could include hours of operation, materials accepted and permits. The operator then enters the most recent month of data for materials received and shipped from the facility.

RCI reviews the initial data submittal and how the materials have been characterized for recycling and/or disposal. It is known that facilities and regions may characterize materials differently, so RCI wants to ensure the same definitions and terminologies are used for a standardized approach to material characterization.

Once RCI approves the account, the facility is displayed on RCI’s registered facilities webpage. The facility will then enter the previous 11 months of data so a full year is represented. The information posted by the facility has yet to be audited and verified. The facility must also make substantive progress toward certification to maintain its status on the registered facilities page.

submitting the application

The next step is submitting the application for certification. This application contains detailed information about the facility or line that is to be certified and can be found on RCI’s resources webpage.

The application can expand based on the amount of information a facility may need to enter. This form allows for the provision of information that was not included during registration, and can be kept confidential if the company does not wish to post the information to the website. It also provides more detail for the institute to review during the verification process.

Submittal of the application for certification initiates the official engagement and prequalification process. This process serves as the initial desk audit to ensure the validity and accuracy of its data and operations in accordance with its permits and applicable laws and regulations. Following the desk audit and prequalification, RCI will dispatch one of its trained evaluators to conduct on-site verification of the information provided.

In addition to the information in the application, the facility will submit two other documents critical to the review and prequalification process.

The first document is a data file that consists of the most recent 12 months of inbound and outbound materials. The template communicates which data sets and categories RCI requires, but facilities may also define any material codes they may use so that RCI can more easily compare and verify this data with what was submitted through the facility’s webpage report. These data files remain confidential between RCI and the facility.

The second document is a narrative about the facility/operation. The narrative describes the operation by providing information on scales, unloading/inspection, separation, screening, storage and processing. It provides information on equipment and buildings and describes the process of how materials move through the facility and what materials are produced for market.

This narrative is important for several reasons. It demonstrates that the operator has a documented working knowledge of the facility, and it establishes a baseline for the certification. Also key to the narrative is it creates a picture of the operation so RCI knows what to expect before stepping foot on-site to conduct the evaluation. If the facility is using proprietary technologies or processes, it may identify them as such and request confidentiality.

RCI trains C&D industry professionals on the CORR Protocol and evaluation methodologies. Once a facility has achieved prequalification, a RCI evaluator will contact the facility to coordinate an on-site visit, which typically takes a full day. The evaluator will develop an evaluation plan based on the information provided by the facility. The evaluation consists of observation of operations and a review and audit of records.

The main purpose of observing the operation is to verify the information the facility submitted, ensuring the facility is operating in conformance with its permits and has appropriate signage, properly trained employees wearing personal protective gear and to investigate any potential risks.

The second half of the site visit is primarily focused on document review and verification. This entails reviewing key documents such as permits, training manuals and records, scale certificates and inspection records. The evaluator also will sample weight and sales tickets to verify accuracy or investigate any errors or inconsistencies.

It is common for the evaluator to observe and ask questions of the scale, load checking and data management staff regarding their responsibilities and functions related to process and the collection, use and management of data.

In the end, RCI must be able to make affirmative statements about the facility in several key areas. These include regulatory compliance; use of scales; supporting data for rate estimates; data transcription and management; employee training; and performance standards. The evaluator will review his or her findings from the site visit and develop an evaluation report.

The evaluator first submits the report to the facility for review and, barring no objection and assuming the facility is qualified, the evaluator will then submit the report with a recommendation for approval of certification.

Upon review and approval, RCI’s executive director designates the facility as a certified facility and it listed on the certified facilities webpage. The facility’s evaluation report is included for transparency.


While becoming certified under the CORR Protocol may take some effort, there are some clear and overwhelming benefits. A facility certified under the CORR Protocol meets the requirements of the USGBC’s LEED pilot credit (MRpc87). This means that LEED projects taking C&D materials to a facility certified by RCI automatically qualify for an extra point regardless of the facility’s recycling rate. This additional point is a bonus of certification, especially for those facilities where recycling rates may have declined because alternate daily cover no longer is counted under LEED v4.

Some facilities have recognized after completing the certification process that they have participated in what amounts to a business process and integrity audit. They have used this outside perspective and newly gained insights about their operations to implement improvements.

Finally, certification under this national standard program leads to accuracy, credibility and transparency. And with a CORR Protocol certification, facilities are able to promote their recycling and recovery performance as “real, verifiable, reproducible and reliable.”

Stephen Bantillo is executive director of the Recycling Certification Institute (RCI), Sacramento, California. More information on the certification process is available at


Leveling the playing field

By Kristin Smith

StopWaste, based in Oakland, California, is a public agency that helps Alameda County’s businesses, residents and schools waste less, recycle more and use water, energy and other resources efficiently. Construction and demolition debris (C&D) is no exception.

About seven years ago, cities within the county passed ordinances requiring a minimum of 50 percent diversion of C&D materials generated from construction projects. Many staff members in the cities were unclear on how to implement the ordinance; specifically how to assess a facility’s recycling rates. As a result, StopWaste’s Deputy Executive Director Tom Padia and Senior Program Manager Meri Soll compiled a list of facilities that were processing mixed C&D materials from construction projects in Alameda County.

“StopWaste and City staff worked together to compile a list of facilities, incorporating facilities most utilized by Alameda County contractors.  We developed a reporting form for the facilities to complete and then conducted a site tour” says Soll. “We utilized their self-reported data at their word and put a list together that incorporated recycling rates for cities to utilize.”

At first the list helped cities implement the C&D ordinance, but as building code became more stringent and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification increased in prevalence, Soll says the list became used in ways that was never intended.

According to Soll, “It became a convenient list for contractors trying to meet LEED requirements. It was being referred to in ways not originally intended, and the data wasn’t certified [by a third party]. At the end of the day, this list was just  self-certified recycling rates.”

She says StopWaste wanted to “get out of the C&D facility list business” and was looking for entities that provided third party certification programs that could be used regionally, to reduce or eliminate the redundancies, inconsistencies and inefficiencies of multiple rating and audit reviews.

The agency was part of initial discussions with the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), Milwaukee, and the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, when the Certification of Recycling Rates (CORR) program was developed as a way to “help certify facility recycling rates utilizing one standard.”

In the push to have the certification adopted regionally, the needle wasn’t moving according to Soll. On the municipal level some officials felt the cost was too high (about $7,000 per year) to impose on the facilities and therefore were not willing to participate in a regional program. Feedback from facilities, she says, was that they didn’t see the need for certification if cities were not requiring it. Cost wasn’t so much a factor from the facilities’ perspective, she adds.

Soll says she circled back with all the cities in Alameda County asking them to require the certification in order for the program to move forward. The Alameda County cities of Hayward, Alameda,  Berkeley as well as the County’s largest city, Oakland, signed on to require contractors to take mixed C&D materials  to a third party certified facility that meets the LEED standard (currently only RCI meets the LEED standard). She says these communities recognize the importance of verifying a facility’s recycling rate as accurate rather than simply requiring a facility to meet a certain minimal recycling rate. “A facility’s recycling rate goes up and down based on markets, so requiring a certain recycling rate for a facility isn’t really that helpful,” Soll says. “Requiring a facility to get certified by a third party entity that assesses the facility’s ability to recover is a better marker than meeting a minimal recycling rate”.

The four cities that have currently signed onto the program represent about half of the population in Alameda County, with other cities poised to join.  Soll says she thinks the certification program will get traction from the facility-level. “These cities’ commitment to requiring contractors to take their mixed C&D materials to a certified facility should be enough to get 10 to 12 of the heavily utilized mixed C&D facilities certified. When that happens then we have done our job,” says Soll.

Another factor affecting mixed C&D recycling facilities is the large increase in new construction in the Bay Area.  Contractors are travelling far distances from their main offices and the destination of mixed C&D materials is changing.  Many contractors are hauling their materials on the way back to the office and are utilizing facilities that both Alameda County city staff and StopWaste staff are not aware of.    Many cities utilize the software Green Halo, which is a web-based waste management tracking tool. Green Halo utilizes recycling rates provided by RCI, or if not certified, a self-reported rate is utilized. StopWaste monitors the facilities utilized in Green Halo.  Soll says she gets calls about once a week asking for a facility to be inputted into the Green Halo system, claiming as high as a 92 percent recycling rate. She says rates that high are suspect, especially when she knows facilities that have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure and have had their rates certified are achieving closer to 75-80 percent diversion rates.

“I do feel for these facilities that have millions of dollars in infrastructure that are constantly being scrutinized by their local environmental agencies and their cities to make sure they are operating by their permit,” she says. “It is unfair competition when someone else can say they are getting a 90 percent recycling rate and not doing much sorting, and taking materials and transferring them to a facility for ADC (alternative daily cover).”

She concludes, “We would love to level the playing field and for every city in our area to say, ‘ You must take  your mixed C&D materials to a certified C&D facility where the recycling rate has been verified by a third-party entity that meets the LEED standard.’ That is the big goal a goal we have been working toward for a long time.”

City of Hayward (CA) Updates its C&D Ordinance and Specifies Third-Party Certification

Posted on June 22, 2017

The City of Hayward is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, a hotbed of C&D programs, ordinances, and recycling operations.  Upping the ante, the City of Hayward recently amended their C&D ordinance to expand the recycling requirement to include more projects and also require increased diversion.  California state law has required cities and counties to divert at least 50% of their waste since 2000, but this past January California Building and Standards Codes (CALGreen) updates went into effect with even more stringent recycling rules for C&D projects.  CALGreen now requires projects recover/recycle 65% or more of the non-hazardous C&D waste and that projects utilize a C&D recycling facility that meets locally approved standards for reporting verification.

In developing the locally approved standards for reporting verification, Hayward’s ordinance establishes the term “Qualified Third Party Organization.”  Accordingly, Qualified Third Party Organization “refers to an organization that certifies the Facility-Average Diversion Rate of Mixed-Recovery Facilities” with the requirements of certification described in more detail in the ordinance.  In a nutshell, the requirements are nearly directly aligned with the USGBC’s LEED Pilot Credit MRpc87.  Why is this important?

The Recycling Certification Institute (RCI) understands the importance of good (read: accurate) data and how necessary that is to effectively measure performance.  The USGBC understands this as well and has approved our CORR Protocol for Third-Party Verification of Construction & Demolition Recycling Rates.  That is one of the reasons why any LEED project that takes its materials to a C&D facility Certified by RCI is eligible to receive the additional MRpc87 Pilot Credit.

Kudos to City of Hayward elected leaders and staff for establishing an exemplary ordinance that supports increased recovery of C&D materials and verified recovery rates at C&D facilities.  RCI has already certified numerous C&D processing lines that handle waste from Hayward and we have been in communication with other interested facilities.  We look forward to working with these companies and StopWaste.Org as we continue and combine our efforts in this region.

More information on the City of Hayward’s C&D program and ordinance can be found here.

Best regards,

Stephen M Bantillo

Recycling Certification Goes to Quebec

Posted on April 26, 2017

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to Quebec, Canada as an invited speaker at 3R MCDQ’s Annual Conference.  3R MCDQ represents Quebec’s C&D industry much as CDRA does in the US.  As industry associations go, it should come as no surprise their issues are quite similar to ours.  They are focused on: representing and promoting the industry, transfer of knowledge and information, developing expertise, and promoting networking and the exchange of ideas.

3R MCDQ, in concert with Recyc Quebec (a pseudo-government council reporting to Quebec’s Minister of the Environment) have turned their attention to C&D facilities over concerns the facilities may be misreporting their recycling rates.  They also desire to better understand the performance and contributions of the industry through accurate data.  Sound familiar?

Over the past year or so, 3R MCDQ and Recyc Quebec have been evaluating the potential implementation of Third-Party Certification for C&D facilities as a means of addressing the above and other related concerns.  RCI was interviewed as part of this evaluation and the firm that coordinated the study on certifying organizations presented their findings at the conference, with RCI receiving consideration.

My presentation provided an overview of the CORR Protocol and how RCI conducts Facility Certifications.  It was a great opportunity to speak with their members as well as Recyc Quebec who likely will be responsible for recommending the Certifying Organization when they are ready to move forward.

Despite a winter storm that wreaked havoc on Montreal’s roadways for several days, our neighbors to the north greeted me with warm hospitality and I enjoyed meeting with them as well as the opportunity to share and learn.

Best regards,

Stephen M Bantillo


Photo credit:  Melissa Gariepy

Previously printed in CDRA Member e-Newsletter

US EPA Sustainable Materials Management Strategic Plan Includes C&D

Posted on August 18, 2016

One of the more interesting—and important–developments for the Construction & Demolition industry is its inclusion in the US EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Strategic Plan (link to the plan at the bottom).

Four objectives identified in the plan are:

  1. Decrease the disposal rate, which includes source reduction, reuse, recycling and prevention;
  2. Reduce the environmental impacts of materials across their life cycle;
  3. Increase socio-economic benefits; and,
  4. Increase the capacity of state and local governments, communities and key stakeholders to adopt and implement SMM policies, practices and incentives.

Further, the EPA set “The Built Environment” as a Strategic Priority, recognizing the tremendous contributions our industry can make toward helping the EPA achieve its objectives.  In focusing on the Built Environment, the EPA has established three Action Areas that “…outline how EPA will work to implement a life cycle, systems-based approach to address the full range of impacts associated with materials management…”

With the four objectives and the Built Environment as a priority comes support and additional opportunities for C&D materials recovery.  Good plans are generally not without a means of measuring performance and progress and you’ll find that in there as well.

We are pleased to see national support of the C&D industry and an increased focus in measurement and quantifying the benefits of our industry.  Certification with the CORR Protocol will provide assurances of C&D recycling rates that will allow the US EPA to better quantify the environmental benefits of your C&D recycling contributions.

I strongly encourage you peruse the Strategic Plan and read more about how the US EPA Sustainable Materials Management Strategic Plan supports our industry.

Best regards,


Reprinted, in part, from my prior post in the May ’16 CDRA Newsletter

Austin TX Includes Construction & Demolition Recycling in its Zero Waste Goal

Posted on March 21, 2016

The City of Austin continues to advance a variety of initiatives toward its Zero Waste Goal.  Included in this ambitious goal is the recovery and recycling of Construction & Demolition (C&D) materials. 

Late last year the Austin City Council approved the Construction and Demolition Recycling Ordinance and Administrative Rules to increase reuse and recycling of materials from construction and demolition projects.  The ordinance is modeled after the City’s Green Building efforts and is consistent with the City’s Zero Waste goal and the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan

A key addition is the term “Qualified Processor”.  A Qualified Processor means a facility that has Registered with the City of Austin and has been determined to meet the qualifications listed in Section 15-6-161 Qualified Processor Requirements.  We are pleased to note that facilities certified by the Recycling Certification Institute (RCI) automatically meet the City of Austin’s requirements to be approved as a Qualified Processor. 

There is a bonus for RCI-Certified facilities, namely, LEED projects using these facilities are eligible to receive an extra Pilot Credit point.  This is important for Austin because they know RCI-Certified facilities have been audited and certified to pass the vigorous requirements of the CORR Protocol, thereby increasing the confidence in the recycling reports of these facilities.  CORR is the only ISO-level protocol for verifying C&D recycling rates to have been developed in collaboration with a cross-section of representatives from the building and construction industry, haulers, recyclers, and government under the guidance of the USGBC.

Austin’s ordinance goes into effect on October 1, 2016.  Contractors who submit a building application for more than 5,000 square feet of new, remodeled or added floor area must either 1) Reuse or recycle at least 50 percent of the construction debris from the project, or 2) Dispose of less than 2.5 pounds of material per square foot of floor area.  At the conclusion of an affected project, the contractor must report to the City the quantity of materials landfilled and the quantities reused or recycled.

There are penalties included in the ordinance for non-compliance.  Some projects may not be able to meet the ordinance requirements and they may request a waiver.  However, projects that do not meet the requirements and do not have a waiver are subject to a Class C misdemeanor. 

Questions about Austin’s C&D Ordinance may be sent to 

We thank the City of Austin and Austin Resource Recovery for their support of verified recycling rates and congratulate them for their leadership and accomplishments in Zero Waste.

Recycling Certification Hits the Empire State

Posted on October 7, 2015

This is a re-post of an article that ran in C&D World.

Recycling Certification Hits the Empire State

 Written by Ray Kvedaras

Cooper Tank Recycling of Brooklyn, N.Y., has joined the nationwide list of certified C&D recycling facilities. Cooper is honored to be the first recycling facility in the state of New York to show the level of transparency required to qualify for RCI certification.8-AF2A7236-400

New York City is a complex, wonderful place; a world-class marvel of civil and social engineering. As one of the largest members in the city’s private waste and recycling industry, our issues fall squarely within the sustainability sphere. We spend most of our day figuring out how to recycle things, recycle them better and minimize the cost of disposal for ourselves, our customers, the community and the environment. Recycling is an important responsibility, which now has to be taken more seriously by all the stakeholders of our great city after the introduction of the Mayor’s Zero Waste goal.

That is why we chose to have our recycling rate certified by the Recycling Certification Institute, which independently verifies the USGBC-approved protocols of the CDRA-initiated process known as the Certification of Recycling Rates or CORR program. As Bill Turley will tell you (and if asked, he will tell you anything you want to know about recycling, plus a little more) there was a recognized need amongst the academics, trade associations and industry representatives that recycling had to “come clean,” to rid itself of dubious claims and statistics, and move forward with an integrity that could be relied upon.

The CORR process, developed to ISO-level standards, is not for the faint hearted. RCI and their regional audit team know their stuff and are quite thorough, but the benefits are substantial, especially the additional LEED point available under the USGBC program MRpc87, which awards an extra point if the construction and demolition material is taken to a certified recycling facility. That is even more important now that V4 of the LEED program excluded Alternate Daily Cover material from the recycling calculation making it more difficult to achieve the 2 points allocation. So the RCI certification provides some added value to our customers — architects, builders and general contractors — and the opportunity to regain a “lost” point. Indeed, the USGBC recognizes CORR as the only program that is worthy of this extra point.

8-wall-400In all, the process took around 12 months. After some preliminary work, we gained momentum after the recent CDRA conference in Nashville and were awarded our certification status at the end of August. In essence, the program checks all the inbound and outbound loads, verifying that they actually occurred, that the destinations and materials were recorded correctly. But it also looks at the standards of recordkeeping, the equipment installed and process flow, maintenance logs, QC procedures, personnel training and safety management, and permitting. It is more like a “business integrity” audit.

We also gained from the experience and have made a number of improvements to our internal procedures that will prove beneficial as we develop a rhythm for the monthly reporting. The RCI website,, provides instant online transparency for the owners, developers, architects, contractors, customers, regulators and politicians who all have a vested interest in promoting recycling.

RCI oversees a national certification program for C&D recycling facilities. RCI’s “primary focus is on accurate recycling accounting to ensure that the recovery and recycling reports issued by certified facilities are real, verifiable, reproducible and reliable.” We believe this is true, and this program will add to the professionalism of our industry.

Ray Kvedaras is the long-time general manager of Cooper Tank Recycling, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He can be reached at 718-384-7727;


New Certified Facilities Added

Posted on September 25, 2015

We are pleased to announce the addition of two more Certified Mixed C&D Facilities! Cooper Tank Recycling is the first facility in the Northeast to become Certified under the CORR Protocol. Within an indoor site roughly an acre in size, Cooper processes more than 300,000 tons of Mixed C&D per year!  Visit Cooper Tank Recycling at .    Construction and Demolition Recycling, Inc. (CDR) is the first facility in Southern California to become Certified by RCI. CDR focuses on interior demolitions, recovering roughly 80% of the “30% of materials many C&D processors do not handle.”   Congratulations and welcome aboard Cooper Tank Recycling and Construction and Demolition Recycling, Inc!

RCI’s Executive Director to appear on November 4th

Posted on November 4, 2014

Tune in tonight, Ted Roan, Green Director of YouthBuild talks about how they take “at risks” 16-24, help them get their GED’s while they work full time building affordable energy efficient homes “greening” communities across the country.

Then, Executive Director, Stephen Bantillo, of the Recycling Certification Institute takes us inside the world of C&D (construction and demolition) waste and recycling materials and how their national program ensures transparency and integrity among the facilities that handle these materials.

Don’t miss this show!


Show airs today, November 4, 2014

7pm Eastern
6pm Central
5pm Mountain
4pm Pacific

You can listen to the show live by calling directly at 917-932-1078.  Or to listen through your computer, go to and click on the “Live” link at the top of the screen.  The talkwithgreenguy web address re-directs to Blog Talk Radio at

RCI and Green Halo Systems at Greenbuild 2014 in New Orleans

Posted on October 20, 2014

Are you going to Greenbuild in New Orleans?  RCI and Green Halo Systems will be there!  Please be sure to stop by and see us in Booth 1416 in the Exhibit Hall.  We’re excited to be able to provide demonstrations on our reporting/tracking systems as well as discuss the new LEED Pilot Credit (MRpc87) for recycling your project’s C&D materials at an approved third-party Certified C&D recycling facility.

Need directions?  Check this link for a floor plan.  

See you there!

Now is the Time to Get Certified, Before the Competitors Do

Posted on August 28, 2014

Guest article in the July/Aug 2014 edition of C&D World Magazine talks about the benefits of being Certified.  The message?  Independent Third-Party Certification is a good investment.  Check it out in C&D World Magazine.