New York-based electronics recycler, Sunnking, is offering paid time-off to employees who choose to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, the company announced March 29. Sunnking’s incentive plan gives four hours for each vaccine dose required for eligible, full-time staff. The company hopes this incentive will promote individual vaccination and serve as an example to other businesses to offer a similar benefit.

“We’re giving all employees four hours PTO to use toward getting a vaccine,” says Duane Beckett, CEO of Sunnking. He notes the program is just one part of the company’s strong health, safety, and environmental policy.

Sunnking was able to stay open during New York’s mandated business closures last year because the state listed recycling as an essential business. The company has implemented several changes and practices for its employees in response to the pandemic. Internally, Sunnking provided PPE to employees, along with training on how to properly use them and social distance. “We started staggering start times and break times to try to avoid group gatherings and eliminate any potential exposures,” says Robert Burns, Sunnking’s director of marketing. He notes the company is flexible in helping making COVID-19 testing available for anyone experiencing symptoms that could lead to the virus.

Beckett sees no negatives in offering this program to employees. In fact, he thinks it will have a positive effect. “It builds a little bit of morale,” he says. “It helps protect all your own workers and any customers.”

For Darien Payne, a Sunnking employee, his asthma makes getting the vaccine a “no-brainer.” “It’s always been on my mind to go get this vaccine so that way I don’t catch it and I’m protecting my family members and others who I associate with,” he says.

This incentive program lines up with several of Sunnking’s upcoming community-focused e-recycling events in Western and Central New York. Sunnking has offered no-cost collections in these areas since 2010. But in 2020, the company had to postpone several events after staff members tested positive for the virus. The company hopes implementing this program will reduce exposure to COVID-19.

“We’re really hoping these vaccines provide that protection for our staff but also any potential spread at our collection events,” Burns says. Since staff come in contact with nearly 2,000 residential customers at each event, the company has implemented a drive-through, no-contact process. “Residents pack their recyclables in their backseat or trunk and stay in the car. Our teams do all the heavy lifting,” Burns explains. Sunnking also added a free ticketing system for the events so staff can keep crowd control in check and customers don’t need to roll down their windows during check-in.


To learn more about ways recyclers engage with the community, check out these sessions at ISRI2021, ISRI’s virtual convention: What Can We Gain From Being Local and Vocal on Tuesday, April 20, from 4:15-5:00 p.m. EDT, Policy + Community Engagement = Business Value on Thursday, April 22, from 4:15-5:00 p.m., and Youth Engagement: Educating Our Future On Recycling Is Essential, on Tuesday, April 27, from 2:45-3:30 p.m. EDT. Click here to register for ISRI2021.

Images courtesy of Sunnking



Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah Zuckerman

Hannah is a Writer & Editor for ISRI's Scrap News. She's interested in a wide range of topics in the recycling industry and is always eager to learn more. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in History and a minored in Creative Writing. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband.