E-Waste Recycling Program Employs Disabled Americans

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A new program with plans to expand electronic recycling efforts in ten US cities also aims to boost employment of disabled Americans.

Jessie Tyler, 19, was hired by 2rg to disassemble electronics with the support of a job coach. Photo: The Arc

The Arc, a national advocacy association for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), launched its eXplore eRecycling initiative earlier this month. The program will distribute nearly half a million dollars toward selected chapters in ten separate cities to start and support electronic recycling efforts around the nation.

“The eXplore eRecycling initiative is a wonderful chance to show how individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can excel in cutting edge jobs while earning competitive salaries.  By bringing together the disability and the e-recycling communities, we hope to create more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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Recycling old electronics can have a substantial impact on the environment because the products are made of such a variety of materials and the manufacturing of these products takes a considerable amount of energy. According to the Environment Protection Agency, one million recycled desktop computers can prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of 16,000 passenger cars annually.

The Arc’s initiative will be funded by a $465,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. Each sub-grantee will be awarded a portion of the funds to create or expand an e-waste recycling program in their city. The sub-grantees, which hail from New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama and Massachusetts, will work closely with business professionals in the environmental industry throughout the length of the program. It is The Arc’s hope that this interaction will not only help the success of the chapter’s recycling efforts but also provide competitive employment outcomes for people with I/DD.

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