Students from Nashville, Tenn.-based Belmont University, who created a mattress recycling program, have been awarded this year’s Enactus (formerly SIFE) World Cup, an annual international competition among students who acquire entrepreneurial and leadership skills by creating socially responsible businesses in their communities. The final competition between teams from 38 countries was held Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.
Teams were evaluated based on how successfully they used business concepts to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.
The Belmont Enactus team focused on 14 projects benefitting local and global communities. The team of 42 students spent 2,442 volunteer hours on their projects.
The group’s flagship entry in the competition was a comprehensive business plan and operational strategy for Spring Back Recycling, a used mattress recycling enterprise. Through the program, previously incarcerated workers are taught the skills needed to gain employment at Spring Back’s recycling facility, where mattresses are dismantled and their component materials are recycled for use in new products.
To date, more than 15,000 mattresses have been recycled and 250 tons of waste diverted from landfills. In addition to receiving mattresses from individuals and retailers from five states, Spring Back is in talks with the U.S. Navy to receive an additional 13,000 mattresses from two aircraft carriers for a pilot program.
The International Sleep Products Association worked with the Belmont team as it developed its business plan and opened operations. ISPA encourages mattress manufacturers and retailers in the Nashville area that are not already sending their discarded products to Spring Break for recycling to contact the operation and support its efforts. For more information about the program, check www.springbackrecycling.com.