Houston recycling company employs the disabled
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 04:09
A local electronics recycling program is not just saving the environment, but also providing jobs for people with disabilities.
In April, CompuCycle, a Houston-based company founded in 1996 that specializes in recycling and refurbishing old electronics in an eco-friendly way, announced a partnership with the nonprofit agency Easter Seals Greater Houston for a larger campaign called WhatIF that will begin on Sept. 15. According to CompuCycle President Clive Hess, the main goal of this partnership is to give employment possibilities to Easter Seals clients with disabilities in Houston.
“The partnership with Easter Seals came about because they provide job training in Houston for individuals with disabilities,” Hess said. “Most people have a family member or someone they know who is living with a disability, so the WhatIF campaign touches on a personal note as well.”
Easter Seals primarily deals with clients with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs, according to its website. Hess said Easter Seals clients will be working in CompuCycle’s Houston processing facility testing equipment, sorting like materials and disassembling donated products.
Easter Seals Greater Houston Chief Executive Officer Elise Hough said employment is a constant struggle for many individuals with disabilities.
“We get frequent calls from clients struggling to find employment,” Hough said. “Funding for programs like this is difficult to find, and the CompuCycle is unique because it has the potential to be self-sustaining.”
Hess said businesses have an incentive to donate electronics to CompuCycle because it is free of cost, which in turn means better business for CompuCycle and more ecofriendly treatment of used electronics.
In addition to receiving donations from businesses, CompuCycle also hosts a number of collection events in the Houston area. CompuCycle accepts a wide variety of products including laptops, cellphones, game consoles, stereo equipment and even hair accessories such as curling irons, according to Hess.
Rice Environmental Club President Skye Kelty said plans are in the works for Rice involvement with the CompuCycle collection program.
“We heard about CompuCycle through the City of Houston sustainability program, and it’s on our to-do list,” Kelty, a McMurtry College junior, said. “It’s an awesome company, and we’re hoping to do a collection at Rice at some point during the year.”
In addition to providing jobs directly through the partnership, Hess and Hough said the program can help increase computer literacy among clients.
“Our hope is to be able to employ approximately 50 clients at CompuCycle and ... a few hundred more per year could receive general computer training,” Hough said. “CompuCycle is even hoping to donate some of the refurbished computers to clients who go through training.”
Hess said he hopes to expand the program regionally and even nationally.
“The program in Houston is the pilot project, but there is potential to expand,” Hess
said. “Easter Seals has chapters nationally, and CompuCycle has alliance partners nationwide.”
Hough said she hopes to see more programs like these in the future for individuals with disabilities.
“From a training and hiring process, there are many attitudinal problems and physical barriers in the workplace for people with disabilities,” Hough said. “I’ve never seen a program like this, and it shows how there is a chance for inexpensive, simple solutions to help the cause.”