Recycling Workforce Issues

By Len Christopher, Chief Operating Officer, Leadpoint Business Services 

Ana Martinez is Leadpoint’s onsite manager at our customer’s MRF in Clackamas, Oregon. She is among our most tenured employees with over 15 years of service.

Ana’s tenacity is commendable, but what’s even more impressive is the tenure of her team.

Of the more than 50 employees she manages at this MRF every day, 40 percent of them have been on the job in Clackamas for five years or more. That number includes five sorters who have been with us for 14 years or more, three at 15 years and one at 16 years.

I love this data because it busts a few myths about the MRF workforce.

Myth #1: You can expect high turnover at a MRF.

Some turnover is natural in any setting; MRFs are no exception. Our experience shows, however, that sorters can and do stay on the job long term – 5, 10 or even 15 years – when they are engaged in the work. Our manager Ana and other Leadpoint onsite managers create engagement by building relationships with the front-line employees: they get to know them as people, listen to their concerns, and give them opportunities to grow. It takes more time to manage this way, but it creates a team of sorters who care about the job and about the company. That translates directly to low turnover.

Myth #2:  Sorter is a dead-end job.

Don’t tell that to Ana Martinez, who started as a sorter, or to Leadpoint’s other 10 onsite managers who all started as sorters and worked their way up. A career in the recycling industry can be exciting and interesting, and it appeals to a wide range of people. We recruit high-potential employees and top-grade each one before anyone steps onto the MRF floor. Then, we work to create a high-performance atmosphere, led by a stable management group, where people are excited to come to work. Our hands-on leaders identify people who have the potential to do more, then coach them to advance into roles like line lead.

Myth #3: Working with a staffing partner means constant churn.

We hear that a lot. Like you, I’ve seen plenty of cases where traditional temp staffing can lead to a revolving door of MRF workers who come and go, require ongoing training, and create turmoil that impedes productivity. That’s where Leadpoint busts the myth. Leadpoint’s MRF-specific experience and knowledge allows our customers to reduce people-related chaos and distractions. Led by on site managers who speak your language, we hire full-time MRF employees, provide ongoing training, and build a safety culture that enables the workforce to perform at high levels of efficiency and productivity. The result? Less churning, more earning.

Back in Clackamas, you can still find Ana on the sort line from time to time. “I go back to sorting when things get stressful,” she says. “It relaxes me.”

I invite you to contact me personally to talk about Leadpoint’s industry knowledge and high-performance work teams. Then, together we can bust a few more myths., 602-431-0410


    • Thanks for the feedback, Linda. We appreciate you calling out Ana and will pass your comment onto her.

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