Interview with Chris Richards, General Manager, Soft Landing.
1. Tell us a bit about Soft Landing and your day-to-day work.
“Soft Landing is a national Australian social enterprise that diverts end-of-life mattresses from
landfill and recovers the components for recycling. Across our six sites we employ over 130
people, of which, about 75 percent were previously experiencing barriers to entering the open
labour market before joining us. Since receiving the Westpac Foundation social enterprise grant
in 2017, we’ve been able to more than double our team from 47 to over 130. The grant combined
with an acquisition has also allowed us to more than double the number of mattresses processed
from 230,000 in 2017 to 470,000 mattresses in 2019.”
2. What does your organisation do to address environmental concerns?
“Our key goal is to divert waste from landfill and to recycle as much as possible, in order to
minimise the environmental, health and safety impacts of end of life mattresses. We salvage
metal, foam and timber from mattresses to be recycled into metal roofing, carpet underlay,
garden mulch and even pet bedding. This recycling represents about 75 percent of a standard
3. What does your organisation do to address underemployment for vulnerable
“Our mission is to create employment and training opportunities for people experiencing barriers
to entering the open labour market. We work with a range of employment agencies, settlement
services agencies, Aboriginal organisations and community service providers around the country
to provide work experience, paid work and training. Throughout the period of the Westpac
Foundation funding, 165 jobs and 179 training pathways were created, helping our team down a
path of gaining lasting employment.”
4. What do you think is the most rewarding part of your job at Soft Landing?
“The positive impact that Soft Landing has on both people and the planet is the most rewarding
part of this job. It’s incredible to see how providing access to long term employment and training
opportunities can impact a person – we see improved economic, physical and mental health,
among other positive results. The impact on the planet is just as impressive. To date, we have
recycled over 1.1 million mattresses, with thousands of tonnes of steel springs, foam and timber
recovered and recycled for re-use.”
5. How does Westpac Foundation continue to support Soft Landing, and how did the
$300,000 Westpac Foundation social enterprise grant help the impact you are able
“The Westpac Foundation social enterprise grant has enabled us the opportunity to roll out
WasteEdge logistics software in our fleet of 17 trucks over the last two years. Through this, we
have been able to increase efficiencies in our services and improve the employability of our workers – all helping to expand our collection service and recycle as many mattresses as possible.”