Upper Arlington News

E-waste event aims to recycle and rehabilitate


RecycleForce Columbus and Goodwill Columbus will host an e-waste event this month at the Kingsdale Center to recycle old electronics and provide work opportunities for men and women re-entering society after serving prison sentences.

RecycleForce Columbus was established last year as an electronics recycling organization that provides a pathway for formerly incarcerated men and women to successfully reintegrate into the workforce.

The nonprofit group was formed in the Columbus area after a similar program, established in Indianapolis in 2006, found that ex-convicts can become productive members of society if they're given chances to work, according to Bobby Clark, cofounder of RecycleForce Columbus.

"We hire ex-offenders to de-manufacture all the electronics we have coming in to be recycled," Clark said. "This gives ex-offenders work experience coming out of prison.

"It puts money in their pickets and they get the job skills they need to transition into other jobs."

RecycleForce Columbus will host an e-waste collections drive at the Kingsdale Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 22.

During the event, which will be held in partnership with Goodwill Columbus, residents are encouraged to turn in consumer and business electronic products and equipment to be recycled.

A full list of what will be accepted is available online at www.recycleforcecolumbus.org. Acceptable items include computers, VCRs and DVD players, stereos, telephones, mobile telephones, cameras and batteries.

Televisions also are accepted with a donation of $5 for those with screens of 27 inches or less and $10 for those with screens larger than 27 inches. The fee covers RecycleForce Columbus' disposal costs for those products, Clark said.

"We take basically anything with a cord," he said. "What we don't take are refrigerators or air conditioners -- things with freon (gas).

"In products like computers, there's gold and copper and palladium. Those raw materials come from the earth and we want to recycle them," he added. "There aren't that many opportunities for people in central Ohio to do this."

While RecycleForce Columbus is a 501c3 organization, it uses funds from materials it recycles to pay ex-offenders for their work at e-waste collections drives. It also receives funding through a federal grant.

Similar collection drives are being held in communities such as Canal Winchester, Columbus and Hilliard.

"The more stuff we get from an area, the more people we can help and the more things we can get out of a community and recycled," Clark said. "It's a unique opportunity for a win-win when you can clean out your home and responsibly recycle items while at the same time, put men and women to work that need a second chance."