Low unemployment rates are making it hard for recycling companies to find and keep reliable employees for entry-level jobs.  | tadamichi/Shutterstock

This story has been updated.

An initiative launched by e-Stewards will give 10 certified processors the training and support they need to successfully employ a workforce of developmentally disabled adults.

Announced on Sept. 4, the e-Stewards ADVANCE+ program is intended to connect more people with autism and other disabilities with electronics recycling jobs. It also comes at a time when low unemployment rates are making it hard for recycling companies across the country to find and keep reliable employees for entry-level jobs.

“We now have a terrific new opportunity to equip the recycling industry with a superlative and uniquely talented workforce while providing new opportunities for meaningful employment for a largely underserved population,” Bob Akers, e-Stewards enterprise director, stated in the press release.

Starting Oct. 1, e-Stewards-certified processors can apply to be a part of the workforce development and integration program. Ten will be chosen to receive on-site training, a manual and access to ongoing mentoring. The program is provided by James Emmett & Company, which has developed workforce inclusion programs for Walgreens, Office Depot, PepsiCo and Best Buy.

According to an e-Stewards press release, the program is valued at $30,000 but will cost each selected processor $2,000, because other costs are underwritten by corporation foundation donors.

The ADVANCE+ program is based on the employment model used by Blue Star Recyclers, a nonprofit organization founded to provide e-scrap dismantling jobs for people with disabilities. The organization now has three Colorado facilities – in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver – all certified to the e-Stewards standard. It has received corporate grant money to help expand to other cities.

“In our experience, people with autism and other disabilities represent a labor solution for our industry, which has struggled to acquire and retain entry level workers,” Bill Morris, CEO of Blue Star Recyclers and a member of the e-Stewards Leadership Council, stated in the release. “For over 10 years our employees have posted near-perfect occupational metrics for attendance, productivity, retention and safety.”

After initially announcing its new program as +IMPACT, e-Stewards changed the program name to ADVANCE+. This article has been updated to reflect the name change. 

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