Electronic Recycling Social Venture

Income-Generating Business Collects & Recycles Used Electronics
Triple Bottom Line Positively Impacts Business, Community & Environment

OUTCOMES

  • Business model: follow a business plan to
    • Provide convenient electronics recycling services for individuals and businesses.
    • Sell electronics for market pricing to generate revenue that supports job creation and training.
    • Generate a profit that can support the IT training mission and contribute to overall organizational sustainability.
  • Training, internships and jobs: provide closely-supervised work, internships and training opportunities for clients that result in better employment outcomes for graduates.
    • Recycle and reuse of electronics from residents and businesses; solid waste reduction.
    • Nothing illegally exported or landfilled.
    • Donor data safe and secure.
  • Earned income: Sale of equipment parts and raw materials (metals, plastics, glass), with proceeds returned to the parent organization, providing income to support job creation and training activities.

PROGRAM STRUCTURE

  • Compliance with regulations from the CA Integrated Waste Management Board (CIAWMB) and CA Department of Toxic Substance Control.
  • California law SB 20/50 provides guarantees minimum pricing for certified collectors of “covered electronic waste” (e.g. CRT devices).
  • Contract with electronics recycler for SB 20/50 payments (for CRTs), and market pricing for electronics commodities.
  • Written assurance from recycler that nothing is illegally exported or andfilled.
  • Outreach to community residents and businesses to collect computers and peripherals for recycling or reuse.
  • Sorting, testing and disassembly of electronics by staff, interns and trainees.
  • Training students and interns to do technical assessments and disassembly.
  • Staff and interns refurbish computers for resale [see Computer Re-Use Social Venture .]
  • Older, low-value components sold to recyclers at market pricing.

PROGRAM ALTERNATIVES

  • Goodwill partners with Dell, Inc., in Reconnect, a computer donation program for individual residents.
  • Partnerships with other electronics recyclers.

CHALLENGES

For the organization

  • Establishing appropriate board and fundraiser support and oversight for a social venture.
  • Creating a strong business plan before program launch.
  • Dedicating resources necessary to complete and evaluate market research.
  • Raising funds for program development and launch; anticipating a ramp-up period during which the business will not turn a profit.
  • Hire separate staff to develop and administer a program, without distracting from the organization’s primary mission.
  • Following all California regulations governing the handling of electronic waste.
  • Sourcing donations in a highly competitive market.
  • Low margins for computer equipment when recycling (SB 20/50 minimum pricing dropped in 2008.)
  • Electronics recycling is highly controversial because of the media coverage surrounding illegal exports to developing countries; to protect social venture’s brand, only partner with recyclers that can guarantee responsible recycling.

For the client

  • Compliance with professional behavior and dress standards.
  • Lack of confidence and/or work experience in the IT environment.
  • Completion of technical training.
  • High level of computer understanding (A+, MCDST, Network+ Certification.)

RESOURCES

ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS

  • Mission-relevance: business must be relevant to organization’s mission, stakeholder/funder, community and client needs.
  • Double bottom-line: metrics to measure measuring overall financial and social costs and benefits.
  • Baseline funding: subsidy from funders for business start-up.
  • Market research: assessment of local markets and competition.
  • Strong business plan: details products/services, market size, key financials, milestones, staff responsibilities.
  • Minimum capabilities: Goodwill’s recycling operation runs 5 days/ week, 8.5 hours/day.
  • Infrastructure: Warehouse, material handling equipment (e.g., forklift, pallet jack, pallet racking, etc.), storage equipment (e.g., pallets, gaylord cardboard boxes, etc.)
  • Staff: Operations Manager (1 FTE), Assistant Operations Manager (1 FTE), staff processors (3 FTE), and 3-5 transitional employees.
  • Marketing: advertisements on radio, in print media, and with direct mail.

Collaborations

  • Corporations.
  • Foundations.
  • Government local.
  • State.
  • Other nonprofits.
  • Individuals.
  • Local business.

Sources of Funding

Contributed

  • Foundations.
  • Government.
    • State.
  • Individuals.

Earning Income

  • Fees
  • Other earned income.