eXplore eRecycling

What is the eXplore eRecycling initiative?

The Arc’s eXplore eRecycling initiative brings together Chapters of The Arc across the United States and experts in the employment, disability, and e-recycling fields to help develop or enhance electronic waste management programs that offer inclusive, community-based employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

These pilot projects will help us develop best practices and recommendations for future e-recycling programs at other Chapters of The Arc or other disability nonprofits.

Walmart Foundation support of this initiative ran from June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013. In August 2013, we announced the start of The Arc and Alcoa Foundation's Recycling Initiative. This initiative will support three Chapters of The Arc in starting or expanding general recycling projects in their communities. Visit The Arc's Recycling Initiative page for more information on this exciting new endeavor and the three Chapters participating.

Why e-recycling?

The gadgets we have come to rely on (cell phones, computers, televisions, etc.) are constantly evolving to meet our changing needs. But, what happens to those devices when we are through with them? In 2009, The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that only 25% of the 438 million new electronic products sold were collected for recycling. Coupled with the knowledge that the production of electronic devices will continue to increase yearly, this information shows an increasing demand for environmentally-friendly ways to dispose of electronic products when we finish using them.

Additionally, employment continues to be a challenge for individuals with I/DD. Data from June 2011’s FINDS survey shows that only 15% of families who reported documented their family member with I/DD as being employed. Of those individuals:

  • 41% were employed in a community setting
  • 54% were employed in a sheltered workshop
  • 1% were self-employed
  • 57% earned at least minimum wage

By bringing together the need for e-waste recycling services and employment opportunities for people with I/DD, eXplore eRecycling will showcase how employees with I/DD may meet the increasing needs of the e-recycling industry.

What specific programs have been funded through this initiative?

Funds were awarded to 10 Chapters of The Arc across the United States to support the development or expansion of e-recycling programs.

Specific components of these innovative e-recycling employment programs include:

  • Creating on-site and mobile e-recycling programs operated by Chapters of The Arc.
  • Providing assistance and training to employees to attain sustainable and competitive employment at a local e-recycler.
  • Creating an inclusive business team to design and develop an e-recycling program.
  • Training people with I/DD to take on supervisory roles in a pre-existing e-recycling agency.
  • Employing people with I/DD as educators to the community about e-recycling.
  • Employing people with I/DD at minimum wage or higher to carry out e-recycling efforts in inclusive community based settings.

To carry out program activities, local Chapters will work with many different organizations, including:

  • Local and Regional E-Recycling Organizations
  • Local and State Government Organizations
  • Businesses and Contractors
  • Schools

For more information about specific programs:

Contact the eXplore eRecycling Team:

Jonathan Lucus lucus@thearc.org (202) 534-3706
Phuong Nguyen nguyen@thearc.org (202) 600-3483

In addition to The Arc's work with eXplore eRecycling, we are involved in several additional initiatives which may be of interest to you.