“The people at Park City Green have found a way to create something out of nothing,” said Senator Ayala. “A few years ago, the hundreds of mattresses in their shop would be stacked up in landfills around the state. Instead, they are being taken apart so that the wood, metal, and foam padding within them can be reused by manufacturers around the state. This helps create jobs here in Bridgeport, but also at workplaces across Connecticut who are supplied with Park City Green’s recycled products.”
Discarded mattresses are large and often difficult to dispose of. Mattresses are made up of recyclable metal, foam, cotton, and cloth, but the disassembly process needed for recycling is very labor intensive. As a result, Connecticut has seen mattresses stacked up in landfills, or left discarded on the street. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has estimated that on any given day in Connecticut, there are 10,000 abandoned mattresses littered around the state. The cost to dispose of these discarded mattresses has become a serious burden for municipalities. The City of Hartford has spent as much as $400,000 in a single year to deal with unwanted mattresses.
Senator Ayala and his colleagues in the General Assembly passed a law to encourage the recycling of mattresses so that they do not take up space in landfills, and are instead recycled at places like Park City Green. Up to 85% of most mattresses can be recycled. The wood can be used as mulch or compost, the metal can be used as scrap, the polyurethane foam can become carpet padding, and the cotton is often used to fill car seats or oil booms. While Senator Ayala was visiting Park City Green, employees were bringing in hundreds of mattresses that had been discarded by Yale University, and would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.
“We are very pleased that Senator Ayala was able to take time from his busy schedule to visit Park City Green,” said Park City Green Executive Director Adrienne Houle. “We were very proud to show him our recycling operations for old, used books and mattresses that find a new life through the hard work of our employees. We are living proof that jobs can be created from things that we all throw away. We are grateful for the legislative leadership and support that Senator Ayala provided in getting the mattress recycling law through last year and for his encouragement when we applied successfully for the state Small Business Express grant and Step Up Program. His ongoing support for our green, job-creation programs is indispensable to our future success, and we look forward to working with the Senator on new, innovative social venture projects.”
Park City Green works to create jobs for Bridgeport residents who might otherwise face barriers to employment. This includes those who have been formerly incarcerated, at-risk youths, veterans, single parents, as well as underemployed or unemployed people. Employees receive on-the-job training in warehouse management, forklift driving, bailing, material handling, and other skills that can help them find employment in the future.
Some of the first people hired by Park City Green when it opened in 2012 were unemployed persons whose employment was made possible through the STEP-Up program, which Senator Ayala worked to establish. STEP-Up provides employers two types of incentives to hire unemployed persons. The program offers a wage subsidy, which helps pay a new employee’s salary for the first six months of employment, and a grant which can be used to train a new employee in necessary skills.