For many individuals that go through incarceration, finding second chances can be difficult. However, there is hope. Mission-first organizations like RecycleForce are changing the status quo and creating opportunities for those wanting to turn a new leaf. Learn more about the work RecycleForce is doing by watching (and reading) our blog with Andrew King, RecycleForce’s director, below.
Please provide some information on your background and your role at RecycleForce.
I have been at RecycleForce since 2009. I was enrolled in our program for six months. After my first six months, I was asked if I wanted to stay for another six months. It has been 13 years now. I am currently the Director of Inventory and Quality Control. My job is to acquire new product streams for recycling, develop the processes or design equipment for the material and sell the product we produce.
Please explain what RecycleForce is and what RecycleForce does.
RecycleForce, a 501(c)3 organization, is an R2-certified social enterprise offering comprehensive and innovative recycling services while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals. Taking the electronic waste and other recyclables provided by residents and corporate partners, RecycleForce deconstructs these items, recycles the materials, and disposes of the waste safely and cleanly. The scrap metals and other reusable materials collected in this process are then sold to help pay for job training programs and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated men and women to support their reintegration into society.
How did you become acquainted with RecycleForce?
In 2009 I was released from Marion County Jail. I was placed on strict compliance probation, GPS monitoring, and ordered to live under a bridge. Because I had to live under a bridge, I had to go to the Community Correction Office daily to charge my GPS. In doing so, I spent a lot of time with the officers there, and they said how hard it was for me to get a job, which was another requirement of probation. The Officers at Community Correction referred me to RecycleForce. The program was for only six months, but I would receive a paycheck while there.
What is your favorite part about working at RecycleForce?
I have received so much help from RecycleForce, and the best part of working at RecycleForce is that I can help others navigate the post-incarceration oversight.
What takeaway do you want people to learn about RecycleForce and its mission?
The most important thing we do is help formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate back into society. We do this around the idea of work, and that work happens to be recycling.
What is the value of working with Brightmark, and what do you enjoy about our partnership?
It is hard to recycle plastic; over 90% of all plastic is in landfills. I always thought there should be a better way to convert plastic into a natural resource. This is what Brightmark does. We can take all of our plastic mixed together and send it to a place that wants it. However, the immense value for me is that Brightmark’s staff has spent the time learning our mission and has fully latched onto our mission of helping formerly incarcerated individuals. Brightmark takes the plastic no one wants, sees its value, and turns it into a valuable product. Brightmark also sees the value in the formerly incarcerated individuals and wants them to be part of our society.