North End business to create jobs while recycling used mattresses

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Imagine a Winnipeg in which 40,000 mattresses a year don’t clog up the landfill or go up in flames in your back lane.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/01/2016 (2451 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Imagine a Winnipeg in which 40,000 mattresses a year don’t clog up the landfill or go up in flames in your back lane.

Imagine a Winnipeg in which those mattresses get recycled while creating dozens of jobs for indigenous young people.

You don’t need to imagine any longer, Jobs and The Economy Minister Kevin Chief declared today.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba Jobs and Economy Minister, Kevin Chief, jumps on an old mattress with some kids at the announcement that Mother Earth Recycling has partnered with IKEA to offer an affordable mattress recycling program.

Mother Earth Recycling and IKEA have formed a partnership backed with more than $250,000 of provincial money and the support of Take Pride Winnipeg, to recycle used mattresses while training young workers for their first job. The company said today that it’s a first for IKEA.

“There’s incredible potential,” Chief said today at Mother Earth’s large new digs at 771 Main St. just north of the Higgins underpass.

Anyone who buys a new mattress from IKEA can have a used mattress delivered to Mother Earth for just $10.

“They’ve made a decision to work with a smaller indigenous-owned business in Winnipeg’s North End,” Chief told a news conference. “A lot of people in this neighbourhood are going to get a job through this.”

Within two years, the public should be able to drop off mattresses directly.

“This is a huge step up for our community,” Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg president Damon Johnston said. “Indigenous unemployment rates are really high.”

Mother Earth had been located in a smaller Point Douglas facility, recycling electronic parts.

Chief said that Mother Earth will start with 12 workers for a six-month period, then continue with another dozen every six months over a two-year pilot project. “That’s going to grow to 20 people” at a time, he said.

Groups of six will spend half a day breaking mattresses down to their basic components to be recycled for cash that will be pumped back into the business, and half a day in classroom training.

“That gives our people a tap on the shoulder,” said Chief, who predicted some could eventually “go and work for a big company, while helping the environment.

“You’re transitioning to get that first job — we’re going to see stability as people get that first job. The best way to give back is to get a good job,” he said.

Chief said that Take Pride Winnipeg and the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg are negotiating with the city to have mattresses intended for the Brady Landfill instead brought to Mother Earth.

Mother Earth’s project manager Jessica Floresco said that workers should be ready to apply for full-time jobs by the end of their six months at the recycling site.

Floresco said that it could be two years before the public can drop off directly at 771 Main.

“We need to build a decontamination unit” to ensure the mattresses are free of bugs or chemicals, she said. “Right now, we’ve been doing visual inspections.”

Prospective employees can apply through the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resources Development at the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg on Higgins Avenue.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Sunday, January 17, 2016 5:06 PM CST: Corrects typos.

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