October is National Disability Awareness Month. The goal of this national campaign is to raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.”
Two national companies are working together to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities and barriers to employment while also benefiting the environment. DISH has partnered with Reworx, an electronics recycling program that employs individuals with disabilities and those who face barriers to traditional hiring. Reworx will recycle the pay-TV provider’s retired satellite receivers and related electronics in an extension of DISH’s existing sustainability operations that last year processed more than 26 million pounds of materials.
“Reworx not only furthers DISH’s sustainability endeavors by keeping nearly all received materials out of landfills, but it also yields another critical byproduct: opportunity,” said Jim LaRocque, DISH SVP of Service. “Reworx provides much-needed second chances by putting individuals to work. Steady employment can be a motivating force that prompts a sense of purpose, feelings of independence and, in many cases, helps staff rebuild their lives.”
Programs like this can provide an opportunity. And for those with disabilities or facing barriers, an opportunity to prove themselves is all they need. Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, is proof of that.
“When I was growing up, many people doubted what I could do just because I was blind,” said Martinez in a Department of Labor statement promoting National Disability Employment Month. “But because I had people in my life who instilled in me an expectation of work and showed me opportunities to be successful, I completed college and became known for what I can do. I urge all employers to benefit from the skills of workers with disabilities by giving them, including our returning veterans, a chance to show that they, too, are equal to the task.”
DISH leaders echoed those words.
“DISH looks to create efficiencies that allow the company to pass savings to its customers while keeping with its goal to reduce and eliminate waste,” said Mike Daniels, Reworx COO. “The responsible disposal of DISH electronics is a smart operation with a lasting environmental and, now, social impact. By recognizing this value, DISH advances its business objectives while forever impacting the lives of our people.”
Kelley Ferguson, shipping and receiving coordinator at Reworx, says Reworx provides opportunities from which she believes her daughter will one day benefit.
“This company has always had a special place in my heart,” said Ferguson. “I have a special needs daughter so I really believe in their cause. One day I feel sure my daughter will be in the program, so she’ll be able to conquer… in the workforce.”
Reworx employees are supported by nonprofit Nobis Works’ staff who provide ongoing training to help achieve continued professional success. Last year, Reworx employed 67 individuals, resulting in an economic impact of more than $961,000 in taxes paid and reductions in public assistance. This social enterprise has also been recognized for excellence in operations, becoming the first Georgia-based electronics recycler to achieve the EPA’s prestigious R2 (Responsible Recycling) certification.
While DISH’s partnership with Reworx is new, the pay-TV provider has long been committed to sustainable practices in the way it utilizes and disposes of equipment. Prior to recycling a satellite receiver, DISH works to maximize use with an average receiver lifespan of seven years. Once a set-top box is no longer viable, partners like Reworx sort, breakdown, recycle and resell materials retrieved from the receiver like plastics and precious metals. In 2012, DISH recycled 1.2 million pounds of plastic and 4.45 million pounds of steel. DISH also recycles materials such as cables, cardboard, remote controls, batteries and PC boards.
Providing opportunities and helping the environment. Together, it’s a win-win.
Learn more about The Campaign for Disability Employment and how individuals and corporations can help provide and support opportunities for those with disabilities.