Congratulations to Bill Morris and Blue Star Recyclers for your 2017 Social Enterprise of the Year Award!
Note: This tour was coordinated by Danielle Norris, CEO and Co-Founder of Sovenco, a Denver Social Enterprise that Aligns Business and Humanity. Special thanks to Laura Franklin, Sovenco Co-Founder and Bill Morris, Owner, Blue Star Recyclers. All photos, video and article provided by and written by Kimberly Johnson, owner, Faceted Media.
(Sovenco Founder Danielle Norris goes LIVE with Blue Star Recycling Founder Bill Morris)
Take the tour! Watch the video.
The Truth About Electronic Waste Recycling
On a recent tour of local e-waste facility, Blue Star Recyclers, founder Bill Morris informed the group that over “50 million tons of electronic waste gets thrown out or recycled each year.” Que instant thoughts of massive landfills and undersea garbage jungles.
And, according to a collection of e-waste facts from DoSomething.org, only 12.5 percent of e-waste is currently being recycled in the world.
These are certainly staggering facts. However, organizations such as Blue Star Recyclers, a hybrid for and nonprofit operation with three locations in Colorado, is actively growing to help alleviate those numbers. There are several reasons why recycling hasn’t “taken off” even despite its lengthy track history.
One is that businesses are not required by law to recycle any portion of their waste. And, not all e-waste can be recycled for free, leaving little incentive to companies unconcerned with environmental impact. Lucky for Morris, more and more companies are going green and feel a sense of corporate responsibility to contribute to good causes. In Morris’ case, he offers two: environmental and social.
(Here, Valuable Copper is Scrapped From Old PC Motherboards)
Employees Can Be Great Workers And Be Autistic
Not only does recycling at Blue Star help reduce your carbon footprint, every time you use their services, you are also contributing to helping employees with autism maintain self-sufficiency – aka their jobs at the recycling center.
“In 2008 I watched a group of young men at a disability center taking things apart like alarm clocks and a tv. It was a place where people cared for people, not where people worked, but this group of young men had a talent for taking things apart. It was like a puzzle for them,” says Morris.
In fact, they were so good at what they were doing that Morris had a thought. What if, instead of simply living at a center, these men had real jobs, making real money, and did what they did best?
(Blue Star Recyclers Employees take apart electronics for reuse)
The employees are Blue Star are the heart of the operation. Almost silently, they toss electronics with a loud crash when they hit the bins. Moving robotically with precision, they carefully disassemble each motherboard with their safety goggle on, making sure to extract the valuable copper and precious metals from each one. Tossing it again into the bin. Crash!
Morris explains that repetitive jobs are a great match for those with autism. In fact, he adds, “Our lunch break time can have the opposite effect on our employees. Whereas you and I might find it to be the most relaxing part of our day, these guys find it to be extremely awkward, wanting to simply eat and get back to their jobs. They know they do their jobs well. Conversation with others can be another story,” he says.
Another benefit? Morris’ employees usually show up on time and rarely are no-shows. Hangovers at work? Not a concern typically for Morris. And, by operating as a social enterprise by employing the “unemployable,” Blue Start Recyclers helps bridge the gap – autistic employees as a whole experience approximately 90% unemployment rate.
While training can take longer, Morris says that employee retention is at constant high. He adds simply, “They are really good employees.”
The Bottom Line and an Invite
‘Nuff said! Clearly the aspect of being a social enterprise is not only helping Morris’ bottom line, but also helping him to grow. He recently expanded into Boulder, Colorado, the “Silicon Flatirons” as it is beginning to be called (a new Google just landed there).
(Old electronics are sorted into bins at Blue Star Recyclers; note Danielle’s photo bomb 11 o’clock)
It’s so important to stress how making a direct impact like Blue Star is can help impact the world. What it takes it really understanding your business and who and what you can contribute to make the world a better place and help someone in a brand new way, while simultaneously sustaining your business and growing at a steady, upward pace.
These might seem like insurmountable goals, but simply starting your business seemed impossible at times. Thinking outside the box as far as what ways your company can contribute to the global greater good? Get an advisory board together by contacting Sovenco. They’ll take you through a comprehensive analysis of your current operations, talk about your passion and “why” you do what you do. Then, they create a gameplan that will help your company scale, get noticed, include the right players and cut costs while allocating funds in the right places. There’s no better time to start then now. Imagine your story here…
(Bill Morris, Founder and CEO of Blue Star Recyclers, a top-notch Colorado social enterprise)