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Goodwill’s E-Waste Program: A Way For Businesses To Be Green And Give Back

By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer

June 18, 2013 – As new technology comes to market that assists businesses in creating efficiencies, the question becomes: what to do with the old equipment?

Local businesses with old television screens, computer monitors, towers, keyboards and other accessories can reduce waste in landfills, help the community, create jobs and get a tax write off all by donating those items collecting dust in the office to Goodwill.  The organization serves the people of Southern Los Angeles County (SOLAC).

Long Beach-based marketing agency Creative Productions did just that last year by donating 18 computer towers, 14 monitors, 20 keyboards and technology accessories to their client Goodwill SOLAC. Goodwill brands itself as the original recycler being that the company collects donations of clothing, toys, household items and more to sell online and in its brick-and-mortar stores.

Creative Productions Long Beach

Deborah Golian Castro, left, president and CEO of Creative Productions,
and Julie Dover, director of commercial operations for Goodwill Southern Los Angeles County (SOLAC),
collaborated to host a Goodwill E-Waste Drive on June 5 at Circle Business Center, 4500 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.
in Long Beach. The event garnered nearly one ton of e-waste from businesses in the area. Goodwill
accepts televisions, computers, monitors, stereos, receivers, DVD players and more. For more information
on donating e-waste to Goodwill, visit www.GoodwillSOLAC.org. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)

When California passed the first comprehensive recycling legislation in the nation back in 2005, the state made it illegal to dispose of anything with a cathode ray tube (CRT). CRTs are paired with a fluorescent screen to view images and are found in televisions and computer monitors. Since the law was enacted, consumers purchasing a new television or monitor are charged a fee based on the size of the screen. That fee goes to the state and pays for CRT recycling collection services.

According to Julie Dover, director of commercial operations for Goodwill SOLAC, the recycling collection services program was a perfect fit for Goodwill. “That’s what we do here,” she told the Business Journal. “We are in the business of collecting.” Businesses and residents are welcome to donate at designated e-waste collection locations within Goodwill stores, but those with 10 CRT items or more are eligible to have a Goodwill collection truck come and pick up the e-waste.

“We started collecting at the end of 2005,” Dover said. “At that time, everyone had a computer monitor in their garage and didn’t know what to do with it.” From the end of 2005 to 2012, Goodwill SOLAC recycled more than six million pounds of e-waste from its 22-city service area spanning from Hermosa Beach to Norwalk. Long Beach is the largest city in its market. Earning 22¢ per pound from the state e-waste recycling program, Goodwill SOLAC brought in $1.4 million by 2012.

Dover is responsible for the entire donated goods division, which is how Goodwill SOLAC funds its workforce training programs. Goodwill SOLAC provides basic support services for folks looking for jobs. These individuals are disabled or disadvantaged, including chronic welfare participants, single parents, the young and homeless or near homeless. “We want to help them get out of that cycle,” Dover said. Goodwill SOLAC’s sector training strategy includes a healthcare training certificate program, for which they charge $300 for tuition and return $200 of it upon completion.

“They are getting a training certificate that would otherwise cost about $1,000,” Dover said. In addition, the money the non-profit has earned from its e-waste program has helped create new jobs in e-waste organization and compliance.

With all this in mind, Creative Productions CEO Deborah Golian Castro decided her company needed to take things a step further this year by hosting an e-waste drive on June 4 at Circle Business Center, 4500 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., the business park from whicher her firm operates. Creative Productions outreached through the city’s council district offices, the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and through the property manager for her office to get businesses involved in supporting a good cause.

“Always, the best way is to model the way,” Castro told the Business Journal. “If you can show people how easily it can be done, then hopefully it can inspire others to do the same.” On the day of the event, Castro said people came from as far as Lakewood to drop off e-waste. Twenty-three donors attended the event, she said. “There was one lady who kept going up and down the elevator with more and more,” Castro said. Creative Productions followed up with Goodwill a couple of days later, and the total weight of the donations was nearly one ton.

“One of the things that was a driving factor for us was that most big businesses have facilities managers, and now there are sustainability managers out there, but for a smaller business like ours there isn’t somebody who is necessarily designated with that task of figuring out what to do with the e-waste,” Castro said. “[Goodwill SOLAC] is our client, but it is more than that. We actually believe in this cause. We want to walk the walk. It’s just something people should be aware of at any level.”

If you’re interested in making business donations, call 562/435-7741 or visit: www.thinkgood.org.