L.A. Start-Up Provides Jobs for Ex-Offenders Through E-Waste Recycling

Social entrepreneurs bring together seemingly unlikely possibilities to create a business model that has real impact. Kabira Stokes, founder of Isidore Electronics Recycling is one such person who saw an opportunity in Los Angeles where nobody else did. She got involved with the city council while helping to develop one of the city’s gang intervention programs. She wanted to explore what was being done to help people re-enter society after leaving prison. 

“We have a seventy percent recidivism rate which means seven out of ten people who leave California facilities return within three years,” she said. “And one of the main reasons people go back to prison is that they can’t find work.”

So while looking for what would help ex-offenders, she noticed that while other types of waste were decreasing, e-waste was increasing at an alarming rate. E-waste is too hazardous to be discarded in a landfill. Additionally, it contains valuable metal that can be reclaimed and reused. For example, there is more gold in one ton of electronic waste than there is in seventeen tons of gold ore.

Many companies have been actively started to give ex-offenders a shot at a fresh start. Several companies also focus their hiring policies on rehabilitating such people by providing them with training, jobs, and a chance at a life free of crime. Kabira’s model however, tackles the twin issues of e-waste recycling and the social stigma of being an ex-offender and provides one elegant solution.

Apart from providing drop off locations, the company can also arrange a pick-up for larger volumes of waste.

They can also do repairs, replacing broken screens on electronic gadgets like iPhone and Android phones, iPads and iPods.

They accept all manner of electronic items, not just computers and laptops. They also accept printers, digital cameras, power cords, surge protectors, batteries, photo copiers, microwaves, satellite components, etc

Although many companies offer e-waste recycling as part of the model – most notably HP, and Nokia, the scope for responsible recycling is huge and companies like Isidore are paving the way into this untapped sector.

[Image credit: Joshua Barash, City of West Hollywood, Flickr]

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net