James Anton, who personally disassembled more than 86,000 pounds of computer CPUs and other electronics materials in 2013 and can manually break down a computer in approximately 16 minutes, was named Blue Star Recyclers’ Employee of the Year at an awards luncheon Wednesday at Stargazers Theatre and Events Center. When he's not setting records tearing apart computers, he teaches his co-workers sign language.
Blue Star’s mission is creating jobs for “people with disABILITIES,” said CEO Bill Morris. The nonprofit employs 24 people and has recycled 3 million pounds of electronic waste. Blue Star received an El Paso County contract to recycle electronics and other materials processed at the Solid Waste Facility and is expanding into the Denver area. Its VERN (Vocational Electronics Recycling Network) program recycles throughout southern Colorado.
In 2013 Blue Star had its best year ever, said Morris, with 1,342,054 pounds of material recycled and earned income of $536,876. A record-breaking recycling event in November topped monthly numbers with 177,376.
Every day is a celebration at Blue Star, said Morris, who described employees "on the autism spectrum" as coming to work happy every day. They always make him smile, said Morris.
Morris introduced the company’s production team: James Anton, Nathan Broin, Dominic Dunbar, Rusty Freymuth, Danny Hennessy, Tom Lombardy, Ray Phillips (retired), Frankie Shaw, Mark Tankersly and Chris Whitley.
The operations team is Ryan Grade, Adam Landgraf, Nick Moscoso and Gabriel Valdovinos.
Special FOBs, Friends of Blue Star Recyclers, were described as people who started recycling through Blue Star and then became “what can we do?” partners: Scott and Darlene Allen, Ed Baur, Brandy Deitz, Margaret Casart, Mike Dabrowski, Rick Kuper, Kevin Lynch, Lynette Myers, Gordon Robinson and Werner and Phyllis Stark. They helped with projects including “a beautiful yellow fork lift.”
Community Business Partner: Employers Resources of Colorado who have been with the nonprofit since it started.
Community Recycling Event Partner: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, three events, 38,394 pounds of e-waste collected.
Community Depot Partner: Community Intersections “where our mission began,” 412,503 pounds of e-waste collected to date.
VERN Member Partner: WSB eRecyclers, Alamosa, employed up to four people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, was the first place for recycling in that area, collected 67 tons of e-waste in 18 months.
IT Manufacturing Partner: X-IO, material contributed over a month of paid employment for the production team, 17,235 pounds of e-waste recycled in 2013.
IT Services Partner: Colorado hi-tech Solutions, 13,113 pounds of e-waste recycled in 2013.
Community Media Partner: The Gazette, editorial stories and Best of the Springs awards.
Strategic Business Partner: Colorado Industrial Recycling, partner since 2008, provided and donated custom containers.
Qualtek Q-munity Award: Aeroflex, four employee e-recycling events each year.
Volunteer of the Year: Colorado Springs Utilities Community Focus Fund Volunteer Team, one recycling event where they volunteered brought in 1,000 cars to be unloaded.