The Australian Stewardship Council estimates that nearly two million mattresses are discarded by households each year. Most of the mattresses head straight to landfill, marking a premature end for tonnes of recyclable steel, foam and timber.
Soft Landing is working to turn this problem on its head by diverting mattresses from landfill while providing stable employment to refugees, asylum seekers and long-term unemployed.
Last year, the social enterprise recycled 538,000 mattresses. For every 35 mattresses collected and recycled, a job is created for someone in need.
It was this social mission that initially brought Cleanaway and Soft Landing together in 2018. The two companies have since shared a close working relationship to make mattress recycling accessible to Australians while offering opportunities to disadvantaged groups.
Pictured: Kolimullah (left) is a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar while Akhil (right) is originally from Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland. Both came through to Soft Landing via a refugee and resettlement process operated with federal funding by Settlement Services International.
In early 2022, Cleanaway took it up a notch by formally entering into a procurement agreement with Soft Landing, making them our biggest social enterprise contractor. The agreement opens up Soft Landing’s mattress collection service to residents in Victoria (Brimbank, Cardinia, Dandenong, Hobson Bay, Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Melton, Moonee Valley and Mornington) and Western Australia (Bayswater, Joondalup, Malaga, Mandurah and Perth Metro).
Residents in these regions can make bookings for kerbside mattress collections at standardised rates via their local councils. Residents can also make bulk drop-offs for Soft Landing at selected Cleanaway transfer stations in the two states, making it possible to recycle mattresses, furniture and white goods all at one place.
Pictured: Lee is a migrant from Malaysia who joined Soft Landing in 2019 to accommodate the social enterprise’s increasing manual recycling processes. Lee still works at the Smithfield, NSW site along with his colleagues Kolimullah and Akhil.
“Partnering with Cleanaway helps us in our mission to create stable and meaningful jobs for people who are experiencing barriers to employment. Every day we see first-hand the positive impact that having a job can have on a person’s life,” says Soft Landing General Manager Chris Richards.
“We use local suppliers wherever possible and support the communities that we work in. We also see that in Cleanaway.”
“As part of our commitment to making a sustainable future possible together with the communities where we operate, Cleanaway is always looking to strengthen our partnerships with social enterprises such as Soft Landing, as well as with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned enterprises,” says Ezra Clough, Cleanaway’s Head of Procurement.
“Our tendering process prefers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suppliers, while our social procurement framework is set up to prioritise and increase our ethical sourcing engagement and spend. Between January 2021 and January 2022, our spend for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses was $9.8 million and social enterprises was $3.8 million. We’re working to grow these figures over time.”
Learn more about how we’re bringing to life Cleanaway’s mission for our customers, shareholders, community and the planet in our 2022 Sustainability Report.
Contact us to learn more about how we’re making a sustainable future possible for communities and businesses across Australia.