By Slade Kemmet

If you’ve spent any time waiting around an airport recently, you won’t be surprised to hear that roughly 77 percent of Americans now own smartphones. Assuming the device in your hand isn’t your first, you won’t be surprised by this either: E-waste is the highest growing waste stream in the world.

Time for an upgrade?

Outdated electronic devices like phones, computers and copiers are commonly tossed into dumpsters. But the tech that’s such a part of our lives can be hazardous when left to deteriorate in a dump.

Beyond the harmful side effects for our planet, dumping these devices represents a huge missed opportunity. The United Nations’ 2014 Global E-waste Monitor puts a $52 billion price tag on the resources that could be reused but are not.

Value to offer

Tech Dump, a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota, saw e-waste as an area to make a difference for the environment and for the community. Tech Dump paired its e-waste recycling program with an 18-month work readiness program, employing adults who have a history of incarceration or who are in recovery from an addiction.

“We have the opportunity to prove out that nothing and no one is waste,” said Amanda LaGrange, CEO of Tech Dump and Tech Discounts. “That everything has value and everyone has value.”

For LaGrange, success for Tech Dump extends beyond the bottom line. Success is more holistically defined by the amount of e-waste recycled–more than 5 million pounds in 2016–and the number of trainees given new skills. That’s the intention behind a social enterprise at work.

Go inside Tech Dump and learn more about their efforts in this video.

Learn more about recycling electronics the earth-friendlier way here.

This video is part of “Living for the City,” a Rewire initiative made possible by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and was produced in partnership with Social Alliance Enterprise Twin Cities.

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