Technology Recycling: Creating Bright Futures for People and the Planet

Tech Dump is an electronics recycling and refurbishing social enterprise that provides paid job-training and career placement services to recently incarcerated individuals while providing reliable technology to the Twin Cities community.

Tech Dump believes reintegration after incarceration should be the standard. For individuals who have been in the criminal justice system, re-entry is challenging and is often paired with a vicious cycle of chemical dependency, unemployment and re-incarceration. Many government and nonprofit programs assist with housing, counseling, soft skills training and the job search, but do not offer immediate on-the-job training and paid employment.

The recognition of this gap led to the founding of Tech Dump the summer of 2011, with the mission to create jobs for recently incarcerated individuals — as well as people with other barriers to employment — and to protect the environment from electronic waste. In 2016, Tech Dump continued breaking ground by building on its existing services to create Tech Discounts — stand-alone brick and mortar retail store for their refurbished electronics.

Tech Dump and Tech Discounts work hand in hand to create reliable jobs that provide dignity and a pathway to independence for their program participants. Tech Dump accomplishes this through an effective and innovative long-term job skills training program that recycles and refurbishes unwanted electronics.  The paid, 18-month, on-the-job training provides living-wage employment, personal support and preparation for future jobs to adults facing barriers to employment. In addition, it provides the Twin Cities are with responsible electronics recycling and refurbishing that lessens the dramatic effects of harmful pollution in the environment.

As the retail operation, Tech Discounts then sells the refurbished electronics at prices up to 75% lower than traditional retail, giving the Twin Cities community a source for affordable technology. Sales made through their e-commerce and brick-and-mortar store provides a stable source of revenue for Tech Dump – the sale of just one refurbished laptop provides a week of employment training!

This revenue stream allows to continue to employ adults currently experiencing profound barriers to employment such as history of incarceration (80% of all Tech Dump employees), a diagnosed mental illness or disability (40%) and a history of homelessness or substance abuse (80%). Tech Dump takes pride in being a Fair Chance Business, a designation that recognizes its commitment to providing opportunity for all, eliminating barriers to reentry and providing meaningful opportunities to success for reentering individuals. So far, the experience of working at Tech Dump has enabled 55 individuals to graduate and move on to higher-paying jobs.Sue, a Tech Dump graduate, says that the program and staff “helped me to start over. They encouraged me to take pride in my work and helped me regain the confidence I needed to succeed. I am forever grateful.” She now lives in Arizona with her children, where she describes her career success to the Tech Dump staff, saying they “would have been proud of my success when I started work at Holiday Circuits. I learned VERY detailed and complicated paperwork at record speed. Thanks for all your help.”

To learn more about Tech Dump, check out their member directory profile.

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