Although mattresses contain recyclable materials like metal and wood, the process of dismantling them is so labor intensive and cost prohibitive that most mattresses end up in the landfill.
But Nashville-based nonprofit Spring Back Recycling is not only diverting unwanted mattresses from the dump, it’s also providing jobs and job training for men and women who were formerly incarcerated or are currently homeless.
The mattress recycling venture was launched in March 2011 as a partnership between Nashville’s Belmont University and the local Belmont Church: College students run the business side of the operation, handling marketing and accounting, while the church secured a local warehouse and recruited employees from the homeless community.
Spring Back employees separate mattresses into their material streams – including cotton, metal, wood and foam – and then sell the material to local scrap buyers for recycling. Rather than rely on donations, the nonprofit is trying to make its operations self-sufficient, using revenue from selling recyclables to pay employee salaries and warehouse rent.
Belmont University finance Professor John Gonas, who oversees the operation, recently told NPR that he hopes to license Spring Back’s model to encourage similar job training and mattress recycling programs in cities across the U.S.
Homepage image: Flickr/How can I recycle this