Recycling is an Investment in our Community: 2016 America Recycles Day

by Katie Gallagher

  • Posted on November 17, 2016

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Today, Nov. 15, is America Recycles Day, a day to celebrate the economic, environmental, and community benefits of recycling! At Helena Industries, our mission is to provide vocational and rehabilitative opportunities to empower people with disabilities in our community.

The 3 Rs of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle help us provide job and training opportunities, offer services to our community, and save resources.


At our vocational campus on Helena Avenue, we use recycled materials from our local manufacturing to make additional products. Sawdust from our wood shop is made into fire starters and fire logs or provided to local compost producers. Wood scraps from pallet production, survey stakes and construction materials are used for gift boxes and growler carriers sold in Helena and around the state. This last year, we made custom tote bags for the Montana Nonprofit Association using outdated advertising banners, something we are now able to do for any interested company or organization.matt-elsaesser_small

The intentional use of waste material helps us keep our material costs down, reduces waste and creates employment opportunities for our staff and those we serve.

Recycling at Helena Industries Thrift Store gives new life to everything from children’s clothing to furniture and sporting goods. Items donated to the store are sorted, priced, and sold, providing a great value to customers while creating jobs and opportunities for our workers with disabilities to gain experience in a retail environment and have paid meaningful work.

The Thrift Store is also the primary collection point for our newest program, Big Sky E-Recycling, which was founded one year ago. Since that time, the program has grown to employ six people. Through the program we have collected 100 tons of electronic items from collection events, households, and business pickups. That is 100 tons of potentially toxic material and plastic not in the landfill.

The items Helena Industries collects are disassembled for recycling or refurbished for reuse and resale after all data is destroyed.

By following recycling industry standards (R2/RIOS), our program ensures a safe workplace, secure data destruction, and that we meet the highest environmental standards.

For 46 years, Helena Industries has provided vocational opportunities for people with disabilities. Outdated or unwanted electronics in your home or workplace present opportunities for us to provide jobs and to develop new work skills for those with disabilities. You can learn more about our programs and ways you can participate at HelenaIndustries.org/Recycle.

Happy America Recycles Day!

Matthew Elsaesser is the electronic recycling manager for Helena Industries. 

View the opinion piece published in the Helena Independent Record.


About the Author


Katie Gallagher