Social enterprise helps refugees remove barriers to employment
The Newcastle arm of a mattress recycling social enterprise is kicking major goals in diverting waste from landfill.
National organisation Soft Landing recycled almost half a million mattresses across Australia in 2019-20, providing jobs for more than 200 people experiencing barriers to employment – including 10 here in Newcastle.
The Newcastle team has increased profitability and volumes this year with the company continuing its operations across the country during COVID-19.
It is processing higher-than-usual volumes as industry and community members are replacing mattresses at an increased rate during the pandemic.
“The Newcastle team have made us incredibly proud this year,” NSW state manager Joe Rasmussen said.
“They have dealt with a 30 per cent increase in volume with only a 10 per cent increase in staffing.
“The team have brought logistics in-house and made great improvements in health and safety outcomes.”
It comes as the company releases data on how much material it has kept out of landfill for National Recycling Week, which runs from November 9-15.
General manager Chris Richards said Soft Landing had diverted 7300 tonnes of waste from landfill, recycled 5000 tonnes of steel, 1000 tonnes of timber and 1300 tonnes of foam.
“We don’t send materials overseas for disposal; we keep our by-products in Australia, support local companies, reduce transport mileage and maximise re-use of materials,” Mr Richards said.
“We send foam to Australian carpet-underlay manufacturers, steel to Australian scrap steel merchants, and timber bed bases to local industry for mulch.”
Soft Landing also provided employment opportunities for 220 people in 2019-20, 77 per cent of whom have faced some sort of challenge in entering the workforce.
“Working in local communities and providing employment opportunities in those communities is just as important for us as recycling mattresses,” Mr Richards said.
“For every 35 mattresses that we collect and recycle each day, we can create a job for someone who really needs one.”
Soft Landing Newcastle operations employed 10 local people in 2019-20. Josh Glanville became site manager in June, having worked on the site for eight years.
“It’s a good family feel here. Everyone is friends and a lot of guys meet up after work to kick a football,” he said.
Mr Rasmussen commended Mr Glanville for his leadership and hard work, particularly through COVID-19.
“Josh Glanville has proven himself as a great leader of the team in challenging times,” he said.