Correctional Industries recently launched a new Mattress Recycling program. Mattresses have long been a problem for landfills because they are bulky, non-biodegradable and labor intensive to recycle. To relieve some of the mattress burden, Correctional Industries has partnered with non-profit organizations Save Our Landfills and St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County Inc.
So, how does the program work? Many mattress manufacturers and retailers offer to pick up old mattress when you purchase new ones, which leave them with an abundance of used mattresses. Used mattresses are collected by retailers and placed in trailers at several locations. Once a trailer is full, CI picks it up and delivers the mattresses to one of our recycling centers located at Monroe Correctional Complex or the Tumwater Recycle Center. Offenders from nearby Cedar Creek Corrections Center work at the Tumwater site.
Once the mattresses are received, disassembly begins. A typical mattress is a 23-cubic-foot assembly of steel, wood, cotton, and polyurethane foam. Given this wide range of materials, mattresses have typically been difficult to recycle. Offender workers separate foam, cotton fibers, steel and wood from each mattress or box spring. Metal pieces are removed, and the various components are sorted and baled for recycling. The baled materials are picked up by St. Vincent de Paul and delivered to material recyclers. Once efficiently recycled, the core mattress materials can be reincarnated into new products.
Between the Tumwater and Monroe mattress recycling operations, approximately 48,000 mattresses will be diverted from landfills each year. The process of dismantling mattresses provides 42 entry-level offender jobs. These offenders will have an opportunity to learn a variety of transferable skills including operating a baler, driving a forklift, and other basic warehousing functions.
Mattress recycling is just the first step. CI is in the process of establishing another partnership aimed at providing sorting services for paper, plastics, aluminum and cardboard. Finding sustainable solutions and practices is not just a fad, and CI will continue to look for opportunities to become a more sustainable 'green' friendly organization.