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E-recycling creates new jobs for disabled adults
Feb. 15, 2016

BY STARRLA CRAY
Associate Editor

WINSTED, MN – In Winsted, people with disabilities have the ability to do a lot of good.

One example is a new partnership between Winsted’s Adult Training and Habilitation Center (ATHC) and an electronics recycling company called Eco Tech.

Eco Tech owner Thomas Gauvain recently relocated his business to the former Edco building in Winsted, and plans to employ 10 to 15 people, mainly through the ATHC.

“We feel really lucky he decided to open his business in Winsted,” ATHC Executive Director Martha Brannon said.

Eco Tech started in Maple Plain, and also had locations in Watertown and Minnetonka through the years. At its current location in Winsted, Eco Tech received its first semi-load of electronics about a month ago.

“My primary goal is to refurbish these electronics and sell them as working units,” said Gauvain, whose business partner is his nephew, Jerome Gauvain.

Items that can’t be restored or reused are disassembled, and the valuable pieces (such as gold in computer motherboards) are sold and recycled.

Most of Eco Tech’s electronics recycling comes from McLeod County Solid Waste, with a new 20,000-pound shipment arriving every two weeks. Electronics could include TVs, stereo equipment, computers, copiers, printers, phone systems, video recorders, DVD players, and more.

Disabled adults from ATHC have been receiving training for e-recycling recently, learning how to separate various components by material.

“We’re really excited about it,” Brannon said, noting that ATHC has many community partners in the area.

Some people from ATHC are employed at the recycling center in Hutchinson, others help clean at Ridgeview Hospital in Waconia, and some work at the WCI thrift store in Hutchinson (which is now operated by His House Foundation).

Many people work on-site at ATHC, as well, helping to separate various plastics for recycling, and performing other tasks for manufacturing companies.

“We have lots of opportunities for people with disabilities in the region,” Brannon said.

What is ATHC?
The Adult Training and Habilitation Center (ATHC) in Winsted is a non-profit organization that helps adults with disabilities become productive and more independent within the community and in the work-place.

For information about admission criteria, programs, or business partnerships, call (320) 485-4191 or e-mail at athc@athc.org.

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