Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is a state leader in collection and sustainability efforts, including the recycling of e-waste.
More than 1,800 tons of e-waste have been collected from Goodwill’s 43 locations across the state since the program began in 2008. Goodwill is celebrating its 90th anniversary in Arkansas during 2017.
“People from all over the state donate their e-waste to us through a variety of methods, whether it is through our donation centers or stores,” said Leisa D. Wamsley, vice president of donated goods. “We have even gone into small communities in the northeast where there is not a store and we have done e-waste drives with those communities. That stuff comes into our facility on Scott Hamilton in Little Rock and we demanufacture all of that. When it comes in, we are recycling it responsibly.”
E-waste includes used electrical or electronic devices. Arkansans can donate their e-waste to Goodwill for disposal, recycling, resale, reuse and salvage. E-waste donations made up a portion of the 950,000 pounds of donations collected at two Goodwill locations in Arkansas during 2016. About 96 percent
of Goodwill’s funding is generated by the sale of donated goods.
A new store and career services center opened at 205 Garrison St. in 2015. The store is managed by Rhonda Richey. The retail store at 631 E. Grand Ave. is now managed by Rori Myers. Wamsley said Goodwill is dedicated to working with citizens to benefit their communities.
“Our motto is ‘donate, shop, change a life,’” Wamsley said. “You take in the donations, shop at our store and we change lives. We do it one person at a time.”
Goodwill locations offer a conve- nient option to dispose of e-waste and other goods.
“We have a sign out there that says, ‘Pop a trunk, we’ll do the rest,’” Wamsley said. “Pull in, we’ll walk out, collect your donation, ask if you want a receipt and then send you on your way. It is pretty simple.”
All e-waste donations are shipped to the 76,000-square feet Goodwill Resource Center at 7400 Scott Hamilton Drive in Little Rock. Donations are stored, demanufactured, recycled and repurposed on site. The center includes a store where customers can purchase computer equipment repurposed from donations.
The process is undertaken, in part, by workers hired through the Transitional Employment Opportunity program, which supports individuals who are at least 18 years of age or older with nonviolent and nonsexual criminal offenses. TEO participants can be employed by Goodwill to process donations for as long
as 16 weeks while they receive job training. The recidivism rate is only 8 percent for workers in the program.
“Those who are reoffending are technicalities because they missed a court date or something like that,” Wamsley said.
Goodwill’s sustainability efforts have been recognized in recent years. The agency received the Arkansas Recycling Coalition Community Involvement Award in 2015 for its contribution to the advancement of waste reduction, recycling and sustainability.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality awarded Goodwill in 2016 with the first Arkansas Environmental Technology Award, known as the “TECHe Award.” It is offered to agencies for the use of new developments in technology or the innovative use of technology to protect our resources and improve the environment. Goodwill Industries has also been a finalist for the ADEQ’s Arkansas Environmental Stewardship Award, known as the “ENVY,” for the past three years. The annual award will be presented for the 13th time this year.
Goodwill regularly works with businesses and schools to collect donations in local drives. Those interested can apply through the Goodwill Industries of Arkansas website to coordinate with Leslie Heizman, vice president of mission and community engagement, to host local events.
“We are glad to come down there, set up all of the logistics and handle all of that,” Wamsley said. “It particularly works very well with elementary schools if they have a ‘green team’ or something like that. We can work with them and we can host a drive.”