Business model finds basis in recycling and recovery
Homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals in desperate need of positive opportunity and thousands of used mattresses headed for landfills—two seemingly unrelated issues with one innovative solution: a recycling business aimed at achieving a greener environment and enabling an eager, capable workforce.
The idea came to the Belmont University Enactus team when they learned that nearly 85 percent the materials in a mattress are recyclable, however most end up in the trash. Secondly, the team recognized their community had members who needed an extensive life change but had few opportunities to achieve it. To address each of these needs with one business solution, the team partnered with Isaiah 58, an organization that provides ministry to men. Together, the two groups developed a venture breaking down mattresses for recycling that provides these individuals with skills, a sustainable job, and recovery possibilities, all while keeping harmful materials out of the trash.
To date, 9,600 mattresses and 340,000 pounds of metal, foam and cotton have been recycled through the “Spring Back” recycling project. Beyond receiving mattresses from individuals, the team is also working with retailers and soon expects to receive an additional 13,000 mattresses from the U.S. Navy. Plans are also in the works for this sustainable business model to be duplicated in markets in Colorado and Missouri. Most significantly, eight men now have a consistent employment and greater hope for the future and one participant is even attending college.