The future of recycling in the Southeast is unclear as enVision Community Living plans to wind down operations at Eastman Recycling Services or ERS over the next year.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning.

Executive Director Jeannette DeLong says increased costs, managing liabilities, and keeping up with the automation of the industry has pulled them away from their goal of providing opportunities for people who live with intellectual disabilities. She notes COVID-19 did not play a role in this decision.

ver the recycling business, then perhaps there is a role for staff there. We'd like to think that there would be. There are also some staff whose role is to specifically provide support to people who live with a disability and so we would expect those staff to continue working for our organization in that same capacity, just in another location."

DeLong says they will be sitting down with the enVision clients that work at ERS to figure out what they want to do next and how enVision can facilitate that.

EnVision Community Living runs a number of other day programs such as Kindale Industries and DeLong says those programs are not at risk.

"None of our other day programs are a similar model to recycling and so the other services that we provide in the daytime are good to go. This has no impact on any of the other services that we are providing."

DeLong adds this is a bitter-sweet move for enVision.

"It is a day of mixed feelings. It is sad to see us moving along and away from recycling but it is certainly a reason to celebrate for what we have accomplished in the last 30 years."

When they first began the service, DeLong says they collected recycling from 525 households. ERS now services around 10,800 homes.