PAR Recycle Works: Improving lives and the environment

by Harrison Lundy
Posted 9/1/22

What do environmental sustainability, electronic waste, and the criminal justice system have in common?  

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PAR Recycle Works: Improving lives and the environment


What do environmental sustainability, electronic waste, and the criminal justice system have in common?  

Employment opportunities in sustainability-related fields, known as “green jobs,” can help formerly-incarcerated individuals to reenter society and successfully build their careers.

Since 2016, People Advancing Reintegration (PAR) Recycle Works, a nonprofit organization based in North Philadelphia, provides valuable job training and practical skills to formerly-incarcerated people. 

In the United States, individuals exiting prison frequently encounter insurmountable difficulties while rebuilding their lives, including restrictions in the job market or in obtaining safe and affordable housing. These barriers contribute to the recidivism epidemic plaguing the U.S. criminal justice system. 

And it works. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 68% of individuals who are freed from prisons in the nation will be reincarcerated within three years of their release. For PAR Recycle Works employees, the recidivism rate is 5%.

Along the way, PAR provides important job readiness training for its employees.  PAR General Manager Maurice Q. Jones describes the training further: “PAR employees receive education in digital and financial literacy, conflict management, and mental health strategies during their time here. We also hope to build a sense of personal accountability and dedication among our staff. These important and transferable skills help PAR employees secure steady jobs after their time with us.” 

PAR’s social mission extends beyond its work with formerly-incarcerated people. PAR collects e-waste (particularly computer parts) from major corporations, law firms, local schools, and universities including the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, Villanova University and Penn Charter.

Electronic waste -  including discarded computers, printers, and network equipment among others - represents a significant environmental hazard. Electronic equipment and components, including computers, televisions and batteries contain high levels of acids, heavy metals, and other chemicals.  By diverting these materials from the waste stream, PAR prevents electronic waste from entering landfills, where they could pose a serious threat to watersheds, natural habitats, and our community.

PAR’s President and Board Chairman George Limbach, explains: “PAR Recycle Works aims to reduce our local community’s environmental impact by responsibly handling devices that, left untouched, can be detrimental to human and ecosystem health.”  

“There is more gold in one ton of motherboards being recycled than there is in 80 tons of gold ore that could be extracted from the earth,” Jones said. “By keeping these materials in circulation, we are helping to create a ‘closed loop’ lifecycle for electronics.” 

For more information about PAR, visit 

Harrison Lundy is a sustainability intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants and a student at Amherst College.