Recycling Mattresses Locally Would Save Peterborough Money, Create Work for At-risk People, says Clean Slate CEO

Ralph Gutkin says social enterprises can help curb negative social cycles while providing the city with needed services

Ralph Gutkin (standing) at a summit he hosted last spring to connect people around the Clean Slate social enterprise initiative.

Ralph Gutkin has an idea for a mattress recycling service that he says can save the City of Peterborough money while creating job opportunities for people who face employment barriers, such as ex-prisoners, people with addictions and those with mental-health issues.

The CEO of the Clean Slate Enterprises, a federally incorporated non-profit organization, Ralph is hoping the city will consider using services the social enterprise would like to supply.

About 15,000 to 16,000 discarded mattresses from Peterborough are sent to a facility in Montreal for processing each year. Ralph says there are about 125 mattresses on each truck that heads to the Montreal facility, so recycling the mattresses locally would save more than 125 trips to Quebec annually and reduce Peterborough’s carbon footprint.

“(The city) could have these mattresses recycled while saving the environment and providing opportunities for people locally to earn money and to invest that money back into the community.”

“(The city) could have these mattresses recycled while saving the environment and providing opportunities for people locally to earn money and to invest that money back into the community,” Ralph says.

Ralph says the operation he’s proposing would require a warehouse between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet. At the facility, the mattresses would be disassembled and the different components, such as metal springs, would be compressed and shipped to customers needing the material.

His proposal is to start with a few people but to have eight full-time equivalent employees by the end of the second year of operation.

Ralph says the timing is right for his proposal for a local mattress recycling service. The city has a contract with a private firm to manage the Peterborough landfill, and it’s through this firm that discarded mattresses are shipped to the Montreal recycling facility. But that contract expires at the end of the year, and the deadline for renewal is in March.

By employing people facing employment barriers, Ralph says the Clean Slate Enterprises can help curb negative social cycles.

He notes that Peterborough, like many other Canadian cities, is facing challenges with addiction, homelessness and unemployment, and a social enterprise like Clean Slate Enterprises is positioned to play a part in remedying the situation.

“How do we change the image of Peterborough? You change the image of Peterborough by taking people who are living on the margins and giving them an opportunity to become functioning members of society — that’s how you turn things around,” he says.

To learn more, contact Ralph at ralphgutkin@gmail.com

Photo by Yvonne Hollandy.

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