“When I was a gang member, nobody had hope in me,” says Cesar Pineda, an e-commerce specialist at Isidore Electronics Recycling.
Pineda’s statement, delivered with an audible lump in his throat, reflects the feeling of many of the employees at Isidore. The company is like one tightly packaged mission statement — let’s value our resources, rather than discarding them — which works on multiple levels. On one hand, the brand’s mission is to recycle the precious metals inside our electronics, an important aim considering the fact that there are currently more precious metals in landfills than in mineable regions on the planet. On the other hand, Isidore is intent on offering jobs to ex-convicts and other people who feel locked out of the job market.
“You don’t know what to do,” Xuong Cam, a recycling specialist at Isidore explains, “by the time you come back out, you’re so far behind and lost in time. It’s really painful.”
There’s plenty of data to support both tenets of Isidore’s mission. The economic impact of ex-convicts who can’t find jobs has been estimated at $57-65 billion, and is deeply entwined with the likelihood of repeat offenses. Meanwhile, the EPA states that 1 million pounds of recycled cellphones lead to 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium — which means recycling e-waste is both richer pound for pound and better for the environment than sifting through ore.
“If society can see me the way Isidore sees me,” Cam continues, his voice filled with emotion, “you’ll see that ex-cons do have a chance to succeed.”