No rest for Calgary mattress-recycling entrepreneur

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While touring a department store warehouse several years back, mattresses were seen by Shawn Cable. Lots of mattresses. Some had been returned by customers after a quick trial and couldn’t be resold.

Mr. Cable began thinking: What, he wondered, could be the greatest means to keep these unwieldy things out of a landfill?

The Calgarian chose to make it his business to tear the things and recycle them. He founded Re-Matt Inc. in 2014. With five full time and three part time workers, Mr. Cable’s business disassembles between 3,000 and 3,500 mattresses each month, dispersing the parts – specifically steel, foam, cotton and wood – to local and regional recycling associates.

Municipalities are beginning to understand the wastefulness of mattress. Metro Vancouver, for one, prohibited them from landfills almost six years back, prompting a spike in recycling.

Born and raised in British Columbia, 36-year old Mr. Cable first came to Calgary after being drafted to the Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team while in his 20s. After retiring from lacrosse, he started studying for a supply-chain management certification at Mount Royal University.

It was during a warehouse-management class he found himself at a Sears distribution center, surrounded by mattresses. At the time, he was having regular breakfast meetings using a group of buddies interested in working for themselves.

Mr. Cable shortly regaled them with his mattress epiphany. “Ordinarily we’d have the ability to shoot holes through thoughts, but this one looked like it had an opportunity he says. With funds from the Business Development Bank of Canada, he found Re-Matt.

He makes money by billing dropoff fees. His primary customers are retailers; Mr. Cable sees a spike in recycling after leading sellers have a sale, bringing in a rash of gently used-but-returned beds. He takes in mattresses from residential customers, charging them $15 a pop, and ’s additionally working with leading hotel chains. Box springs are also recycled by the business for equal cost.

Most of Re- Matt’s was learned by trial and error and disassembly is done by hand. “There weren’t lots of folks doing it,” Mr. Cable says. “Folks that are in the business were extremely tight-lipped because they needed to keep their secrets to themselves.”

Re-Matt can transform 95 per cent of a mattress, into recyclable stuff, the firm says, by weight. This fits nicely with Calgary’s aim to redirect 70 per cent of its own waste from landfill within the following nine years.

At the moment, some of Re- foam and Matt’s metal goes to recyclers, as well as several buyers who may use the wood have been found by the firm. The cotton is sent to a business in Vancouver.

They don’t sell all, but sending recyclable stuff to the landfill goes against the principles Mr. Cable began the business for in the first place. To be sustainable, both ecologically and fiscally, he must locate much more elastic, and more, receivers, to add to the sales they make from taking in mattresses.

For metal recyclers, “springs aren’t simple for example to work with,” he says. “Pocket coils are rough, with their cloth coverings.”

For a firm focusing on expanding its customer base, developing more business ventures on the substance-sales side has not been easy, he says.

THE CHALLENGE: How can Re-Matt locate more business associates to get its stuff?

Re- buyers will get it from whomever has the best cost, and Matt is offering raw materials. If it enters the equivalent of making rags choose the cotton –, every rag maker understands who has the bottom cost of stuff. That’s not a game Re-Matt needs to play. The perfect customer for them is someone for whom an environmental obligation is a significant section of their brand.

Or they may contemplate the resale of components that are recycled as a secondary gain. Given that there’s a mattress war going on right now between Sears Sleep Country and others, if they are able to supply a more efficient and cost effective means of getting mattresses that are used, they don’t should generate income on the disposal of these goods.

Jacquelyn Ottman, sustainability-focused advertising advisor and writer of The New Rules of Green Marketing, New York

A possible source that is good is mattress makers. It’s potential that Re-Matt say, “We can give you a continuous flow of recycled stuff and could go to mattress businesses.” So they are able to make a claim which their mattresses are created with X per cent recycled stuff.

Casper, or a business like that attempting to make its pitch to millennials, would perhaps have more of an interest in purchasing recycled stuff and having the capability to generate that claim. Perhaps instead of virgin cotton Casper could use recycled content, and they’re able to link the brand and it and say, “You may also get a better night’s slumber realizing the mattress has recycled content.” The truth that it’s high recycled content could possibly improve their brand.

Tchad Robinson, chief executive, Blue Marble Materials, the biggest U.S. independent mattress recycling facility, Commerce, Calif.

Wood depends on local buyers. Many people make sawdust out of it, or make an effort to sell it to businesses which make mulch. You only need to be cautious, since if it’s coming out of a mattress that is secondhand it must be revealed that that’s the wellspring of the substance. And that means you’ve got to segment them, and various sorts of foam have distinct flashpoints. A number of people have used it to make punching bags, bus seats, car seats or carpet padding.

California is a substantial marketplace, as well as the quantity warranted the investment being made by us. We’ve got gear where, essentially, you place the mattress in a single end and also the commodities come out the opposite end.

Steel, they may sell to us – we’d mix it in with our stuff that we sell. Working together helps. You’ve got lots of little steel recyclers which sell their merchandise to the bigger steel recyclers who possess the gear to process it


Look at which earnings flow has grown through time – The mattress dropoff income or fees from selling the part stuff? This would give insight into where they ought to concentrate their energy.

Discuss ventures to turn old parts into new mattresses.

Network, network, network

Reach out to mulch companies, seat-making companies, and other recyclers to dispose of extra stuff.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

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