Mining the Waste Stream

Poverty Reduction Strategy no. 9

Create jobs by reducing and reusing the waste stream.

Generate employment and reduce environmental impact

Making use of the resources in the waste stream, including building materials, metals, recyclable plastics, and compostables is more job-intensive and sustainable than landfilling.

Action: Create jobs by reducing and reusing the waste stream.

Additional Benefits: Increased employment and reduced environmental impact.

Stakeholders: Workers, local construction companies, consumers, non-profits.

Where it’s been done: Habitat for Humanity in Macon, GA has a pilot deconstruction program staffed by individuals who often have barriers to traditional employment. The program is helping to address neighborhood blight and materials collected from the houses are sold in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

  • Best Practice #1

    Rebuilding Exchange

    Chicago, IL: Rebuilding Exchange, a Chicago non-profit established in 2009 repurposes building materials and provides job training for people who face barriers to employment. They offer 6 month courses that prepare people for intermediate positions in warehousing and retail sectors.

  • Best Practice #2


    Lowell, MA: UTEC in Lowell, MA is an organization that works with youth with a history of incarceration and serious criminal activity. One of its three social enterprises is the UTEC Mattress Recycling program that provides training to deconstruct and recycle mattresses. It is one of three Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection approved mattress recyclers.

  • Best Practice #3

    Homeboy Recycling

    Los Angeles, CA: Homeboy Recycling, an electronics recycling firm hires and trains ex-felons in an 18 month training period while paying them higher than minimum wage. Training is provided in refurbishing, reusing or dismantling components that are then returned to good use. With partnerships with companies like HP, Homebody Recycling employees 25 full-time employees and has recycled over 2 million pounds of e-waste.

Apply this strategy somewhere

Apply this strategy somewhere

Use the Urban Opportunity Agenda calculator to see how this strategy and others can reduce poverty, create economic opportunity, and build stronger communities.

Choose a City