By Dawn Grimes
Every year the Consumer Product Safety Commission orders recalls of thousands of goods to protect consumers from a host of dangers ranging from toxicity to flammability to faulty construction and packaging, among others. Despite significant investment of time, energy, and money, recall can happen to the best of manufacturers.
For companies facing a product recall, here’s some advice based on our experience as a social enterprise and destination handler with a track record of processing millions of pounds in recalled electronic consumer goods at our Indianapolis-based facility.
From our perspective, brand manufacturers who really understand the properties of the raw materials they’re using will reduce the odds of their finished goods ending up at facilities like ours. It’s surprising how often raw materials are at the heart of a recall: using non-tempered glass when tempered was needed, using a polypropylene plastic instead of an acrylic or nylon, or using raw materials that are contaminated or not fire-resistant. Working with supply chain experts like Mintec or Source Intelligence can help R&D eliminate any number of problems from contamination to mineral conflict that that can result in recall, regulatory failures, or non-compliance.
At RecycleForce we receive electronics product recalls by the semi. Consumer packaged electronic goods typically come to us from distribution centers, warehouses, or retail shelves. Here’s what happens once the truck backs up to our loading dock:
Social Good: At RecycleForce we employ people recently released from correctional institutions. We provide an opportunity for more than 300 people each year to get traction through industry, classroom, and job skills training. We also help with transitional services like assisting with setting up an employee’s child support, helping them get a driver’s license, or connecting them with mentors, housing agencies, or other basic needs support organizations.
Without these foundational elements, the rate of return to the criminal justice system is incredibly high. Historically, here in Indianapolis, about half of those released from prison return within three years. The majority return on a technical rules violation, often involving unpaid fees or restitution. At RecycleForce 60% of the people we serve are placed in full-time employment—with a return-to-prison rate about a third of the national average.
We live in a throw-away culture. Society throws away electronics and it throws away people, too. At RecycleForce we reclaim the value of recalled electronics and we help people reclaim the value of their own lives.
Dawn Grimes is the VP Business and Enterprise Development at RecycleForce. RecycleForce is an Indianapolis based social enterprise – a business with a social mission – offering comprehensive and innovative electronic recycling services while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals.