News and Events
Retail Thrift White Paper (11.27.17)
“The retail thrift industry was a predictable bright economic spot during the Great Recession. But what started as a response to consumers’ financial troubles in 2007, as the housing bubble burst, has continued well past the recovery of the economy.”
Op ED in the Register Guard Regarding Multistream Recycling by Terry McDonald (10.21.17)
Terry weighs in on the changing recycling streams, “Research by the Container Recycling Institute has concluded between 73 percent to 78 percent of single-stream collected recyclables actually make it to the secondary markets. The rest is landfilled. But there’s an opportunity for smart people to come up with solutions.”
Article in Governing by Neil Seldman of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Featuring Our Work (9.26.17)
“…the Eugene, Ore., chapter of St. Vincent De Paul has created 700 jobs in its region. Even during the recession that began in late 2007, the nonprofit hired 100 workers and raised wages” Municipal Waste and the Benefits of Re-Use
Nobel Peace Laureate Project “Inspirer of Peace” Award (8.19.17)
Congratulations to our St. Vincent de Paul executive director, Terry McDonald, who was bestowed the “Inspirer of Peace” award by the Nobel Peace Laureate Project earlier this month. He was recognized for his work to peacefully educate our community.
Cascade Alliance Media Coverage (7.14.17)
This week, several national recycling news outlets published stories highlighting Cascade Alliance’s work in mattress recycling! Recycling Today, Waste Today Magazine and Recycling International are among those who wrote about the state of mattress recycling in the U.S. and the great work we are all doing! Below is a running list of the stories. Feel free to take a look and share on social media.
For Immediate Release (7.11.17)
MATTRESS RECYCLING CREATES JOBS, REDUCES WASTE AND SAVES MONEY
National industry review reports most promising opportunities
EUGENE, Oregon — States that have passed laws requiring better stewardship of mattress
recycling have created hundreds of new jobs, reduced landfill waste and saved millions of
dollars in disposal costs, reports a national review of mattress recycling. The report , authored by
Cascade Alliance , a national leader in mattress recycling, offers other states a roadmap to
achieve similar economic, environmental and community benefits that recycling and reuse
Since these policies took effect in 2015, the three states that passed these laws—California,
Connecticut and Rhode Island—have:
● created more than 200 jobs,
● recycled one million mattresses,
● saved roughly 11 million cubic feet of landfill space, and
● though early in the program, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental
Protection reports that Connecticut has saved municipalities $1.5 million in disposal
costs since the law took effect in the state.
In California and Connecticut, Cascade Alliance mattress recycling facilities process units
collected by the Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress Program. Through Bye Bye
Mattress, MRC collects units from the public at various no-cost drop-off locations and assists
businesses and institutions with collecting and transporting mattresses to recyclers.
Cascade Alliance operates additional facilities in Massachusetts and Florida. These states do
not have a stewardship law, but many retailers and landfill operators value recycling enough to
pay for it.
Collectively, Cascade Alliance’s facilities recycle nearly 90 percent of a mattress, which saves
23 cubic feet of landfill space per unit. This national network of nonprofits diverts waste to create
jobs for people who face barriers to work.
“It’s clear that recycling and reuse programs are better for the economy and better for the
environment,” says Cascade Alliance Executive Director Terry McDonald. “Cascade Alliance
members employ individuals who face barriers to finding employment, which leads to healthier,
more stable families and communities.”
In response to the growing demand for more affordable and economically stimulating options,
eight other states are also considering mattress recycling options, and private mattress
manufacturers and retailers are initiating their own recycling programs.
Americans dispose of an estimated 20 million mattresses and box springs every year, and the
vast majority end up in landfills or incinerators. Bulky mattresses are problematic for landfills:
They take up a lot of space and create flammable air pockets, and the box springs get tangled
in bulldozers, often damaging them. Mattresses contain non-biodegradable synthetic foam and
fibers, plus flame retardant chemicals, which can leach into drinking water. That’s why
municipalities and private waste haulers generally charge extra for disposing of a mattress.
Mattress owners have even illegally dumped mattresses to avoid this cost.
Disposing or incinerating mattresses limits job creation, too. The Institute for Local Self Reliance
reports that for every 10,000 tons of materials incinerated, one job is created. But for every
10,000 tons of materials processed for recycling and composting, five to 10 jobs are created.
For mattresses specifically, the Cascade Alliance reports that the job creation benefits are even
higher. For every 10,000 tons of mattresses diverted, 40 to 50 jobs are created.
Recycling Programs Drive Economic and Environmental Impact
With more demand from the mattress industry and a growing public interest in responsible
product stewardship, including those laws already in place in California, Connecticut and Rhode
Island, there is more urgency for cities and manufacturers to turn to reliable and affordable
recycling and reuse programs like Cascade Alliance.
Cascade Alliance’s nine members across the U.S. turn materials into a stable revenue stream
and a source of secure, quality jobs. The result is financial stability for nonprofits, a cleaner,
more sustainable environment for all, and the opportunity for a healthier, more secure life for the
most vulnerable communities.
Since inception in 2013, Cascade Alliance members have collectively:
● Recycled nearly 240,000 mattresses and box springs
● Saved communities $481,465 in avoided trash bills
● Recovered 15 million pounds of materials from the waste stream
● Created 103 full-time, life-stabilizing jobs for people with barriers
● 15 Materials management businesses launched or strengthened
● Generated more than $10 million in revenue for member organizations
● Contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gases estimated at well over 14,000 tons
About Cascade Alliance
The Cascade Alliance is a national network of nine nonprofits diverting waste to create jobs for
people who face barriers to work. Network members turn discarded mattresses, books, clothing,
glass and other items into a stable revenue stream and source of secure, quality jobs. The
result is financial stability for nonprofits, a cleaner, more sustainable environment for all, and the
opportunity for a healthier, more secure life for the most vulnerable communities. Organizations
who join the Cascade Alliance demonstrate a commitment to helping create jobs that lead to
better health, typically through access to health insurance or other health services. The
Cascade Alliance is managed by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County and supported
by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Mattress Recycling White Paper, 2017 Edition (6.29.17)
“Mattress recycling is a burgeoning industry. With interest from municipalities to reduce the problems of mattress disposal and extend the life of landfills, to the hospitality industry and retailers who seek a less expensive and more responsible way to dispose of used mattresses and the mattress industry itself that is motivated to get in front of the curve and shape the stewardship program, the availability of mattress recycling is poised to grow nationwide.”
Circular Economy Summit in Washington D.C. (6.28.17)
We had the opportunity to send Cascade Alliance Director, Susan Palmer, for a site visit with our partners in Wichita, Union Rescue Mission, as well as the USCCF Circular Economy summit. “It was inspiring to spend two days at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Circular Economy summit in Washington D.C. I particularly enjoyed Tom Szaky of TerraCycle. Those guys are solving thorny recycling problems. Kind of like us!”
Cascade Alliance member, The Scrap Exchange (Durham, NC), is planning for the development of a community Reuse Arts District – a destination with makerspace and shops, art studios, galleries and artist marketplaces, gardens, a sculpture park, architectural salvage operations, affordable housing, a shipping container mall, and more. As part of that process, we are helping The Scrap Exchange open an 18,000-sq.ft. retail thrift store to serve as an anchor tenant for the shopping center! Read about Executive Director Ann Woodward’s vision here.
Susan Palmer, Cascade Alliance director, and Terry McDonald, SVDP executive director, had the pleasure this past week to witness first hand the success of several Cascade Alliance members’ social enterprises. Finger Lakes Reuse (pictured left), located in Ithaca, NY, is growing its reuse thrift stores – looking for more opportunities to help the planet and people. Opportunity House, located in Reading, PA, has improved its thrift store displays and is enjoying growing sales. Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, located in Bridgeport, CT, just received funding to upgrade its mattress recycling equipment, so the enterprise can increase revenues. Our member groups inspire and motivate us!
Kronos Inc. announced a three-year funding commitment to UTEC Mattress Recycling, the social enterprise where all UTEC young adults begin their work experience. “What UTEC does for these young adults – helping them find the confidence and a path to be successful – is nothing short of remarkable,” said Barb Vlacich, V.P. of global sales operations at Kronos. Congratulations UTEC! (Read more: goo.gl/2gCs5b)
“In the realm of materials management—transforming stuff that has no value in its current form or location to stuff that does have value—requires collaboration to get from problem to solution.” Learn our four strategies for scale from a local mattress recycling effort that is going beyond waste reduction and expanding across the United States: The Princess and the Pain Point.
National Public Radio affiliate in Boston, WBUR, profiled UTEC recently highlighting the organization’s success in turning lives around with job training in mattress recycling and other social enterprises. “There’s a lot on teamwork in here,” says Jim Buccholz, UTEC’s mattress warehouse operations manager. “We don’t have one person grab a king size mattress and drag it around. You got to work together, so you rely on the person standing next to you a lot of the time.” Call it a workplace lesson in peaceful coexistence! (Cascade Alliance helped UTEC establish the mattress recycling social enterprise in 2014 and we continue to assist the organization.)
SVDP, Cascade Alliance’s parent organization, was in the running for the MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” grant. Though SVDP didn’t win, the judges were impressed with our proposal for a global Cascade Alliance: The solution offered is innovative and sensible, and I very much like the vision of a global recycling network to manage ‘stuff’ that also provides employment to groups of workers who often have difficulty in the labor market.
Welcome Big Reuse! (1.3.17)
Cascade Alliance is thrilled to announce its newest member, New York City-based Big Reuse. Construction and demolition waste accounts for 60% of all solid waste in NYC. By salvaging and marketing usable items from demolition and remodel projects, Big Reuse is creating jobs & eliminating waste.
Connecticut’s mattress recycling exceeds goals! (11.7.16) Thanks to Cascade Alliance member Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises‘s hard work and diligence, Connecticut’s mattress stewardship program finished its first year beating the forecast! State officials gushed. “This program has created jobs, recovered vast quantities of resources to be reused, saved municipalities $1.5 million in disposal costs and given residents an easy way to recycle a cumbersome item,” said Robert Klee, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Read more here.
ReuseConex: Lots of learning! Lots of laughs! (10.17-19.16)
This year’s biennual ReuseConex conference in Boston was a great event! We and other Cascade Alliance members shared our expertise in the reuse economy and learned from others who are doing amazing work promoting reuse. Terry McDonald, SVDP Executive Director, spoke about the success of Envia, SVDP’s line of upcycling fashion products. We’re looking forward to ReuseConex in 2018!
The Scrap Exchange visits Eugene! (9.21.16)
Jeff and Jessie, managers at Cascade Alliance member The Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse arts center in Durham, NC, received hands-on training in retail thrift from experts at St. Vinnie’s in Eugene, Oregon. The Scrap Exchange is expanding from arts reuse into full-fledged retail thrift. Click here to learn more about Scrap’s plans for the creation of a Reuse Arts District and the National Center for Creative Reuse.
Summer Popups Boost Sales! (8.17.16)
Three Cascade Alliance members held popups this summer and made an additional $10,000 total to help fund their missions. Finger Lake Reuse, The Scrap Exchange and the Opportunity House (pictured left), with expert guidance from Cascade Alliance staff, took advantage of the warm summer days and surplus of donations to hold popup shop sales in their communities. Congratulations on taking the plunge!
The Cascade Alliance gathered in Philadelphia for a weekend of sharing ideas, problem solving and fun! We kicked off our 3rd annual Work the Problem conference with a tour of member Opportunity House‘s remarkable social service center and retail thrift store, the OppShop. Over the next two days, we discussed ideas, lessons learned and best practices in reuse and recycling social enterprises. We heard from Madeline and Rebecca of the Scrap Exchange, Gregg of UTEC, Inc., Diane and Chris of Finger Lakes ReUse, and Leisha and Terry of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County. The weekend was a great success and we all returned to our businesses with fresh ideas, new friends and renewed enthusiasm!
Congratulations! FLR Opens 2nd Reuse Store in Ithaca, NY (4.6.16)
We were so excited to attend the ribbon cutting for Finger Lakes ReUse‘s second reuse store in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick was on hand for the ceremony to help celebrate FRL’s success. FLR now has 26 employees and has diverted 1,500 tons of discarded materials– turning waste into opportunity! (Watch the ribbon cutting: short or long versions!)
The Alliance heads to Philly to Work the Problem, May 5-8, 2016
Every year, Cascade Alliance members come together for a weekend of sharing ideas, solving problems, and having fun! After two years in Oregon, the 2016 Work the Problem conference will be held in the city of Brotherly Love! We are excited to gather for what is shaping up to another great weekend working together to create jobs through waste-based social enterprises. (To learn more about how your nonprofit can be a member, click here)
A big welcome to the Union Rescue Mission, our newest Cascade Alliance member in the Midwest! We are looking forward to working with URM to establish a social enterprise that provides quality jobs for people with barriers to employment, revenue for URM’s mission and a second life for discarded materials.
The Scrap Exchange, Durham, NC, held its second-ever popup February 6-7 and earned a record $12,578. Cascade Alliance staff was on hand to help with the fast paced sales. Looking forward to your next popup in May 2016!
What does mattress recycling look like? (1/13/16)
Mattress recycling gives youth a chance at a new life (1/12/16)
UTEC, a nonprofit in Lowell, MA, helps gang-involved and disconnected youth find a new path through job training at their mattress recycling facility.
We are so honored to be helping UTEC make this social enterprise a success. Read about it here: Breaking the Cycle, One Young Person at a Time (Youth Today)
The phones are ringing off the hook at DR3 Recycling, a Cascade Alliance member, which was awarded two state contracts to provide recycling services under California’s new mattress recycling law. The law went into effect on December 30, 2015 and DR3 has been fielding calls from consumers, businesses, and retailers wanting to recycle their mattresses that just a few days ago would have likely gone to the landfill. We are so happy to see the enthusiasm for DR3 and mattress recycling!
Finger Lakes ReUse Opens 2nd Store! (12/23/15)
Cascade Alliance member Finger Lakes ReUse has opened a new 17,000 square-foot store in Ithaca, NY. This is the nonprofit’s second retail thrift. They opened their first store in 2008. The ReUse Center’s mission is to extract value from local material resources and translate them into opportunities. Congratulations!!
Cascade Alliance Director, Sue Palmer, recently visited our member UTEC (Lowell, MA). UTEC’s mattress recycling program provides work opportunities for at risk youth seeking social and economic success. Great work, UTEC!
(Note: See the Cascade Alliance sticker on the truck?!!)
Mustard Seed of Central Florida on You Tube! (12/7/15)
A wonderful video showing what Cascade Alliance member The Mustard Seed of Central Florida furniture and clothing bank offers its community. And the great feeling they get in return. It feels good to do good!
Cascade Alliance member, The Scrap Exchange, held its first pop-up shop over the weekend in Durham, NC. People were lined up 30 minutes before the opening and the sales were through the roof! Cascade Alliance staff was on hand to help set up the store and work the sale! From other people’s discards, The Scrap Exchange made $10,000 to support its programs. That’s a good day!
Cascade Alliance member DR3 operates two mattress recycling facilities in California. They are fired up and ready for the January 1, 2016 start of California’s new mattress stewardship law that will divert in 400,000 mattress a year from landfills. Read more in Woodland, CA’s Daily Democrat.
East Meets West! (9/30/15)
Cheryl Howard, Director of Social Enterprises for Cascade Alliance member Urban League of Essex County (Newark, NJ), and Terry McDonald, Executive Director of SVdP (Eugene, Oregon) meet in Urban League’s ThriftWork’s pop up shop in Newark!!
UTEC’s New Name & Look! (9/1/15)
Cascade Alliance member UTEC has put new words behind its acronym, updated its logo and changed the tagline to better reflect their expanded mission. UTEC now stands for United To Empower Change and the new tag line reflects its core mission: Breaking Barriers to Youth Success. Read more about the changes in The Sun News.
Reason To Love Durham no. 27 . . . Scrap Exchange! (8/25/15)
Some love for Cascade Alliance member, the Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC.
UTEC mattress recycling featured in Boston Globe! (8/17/15)
Shout out to Cascade Alliance member United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell, MA. UTEC’s mattress recycling operation was featured in a Boston Globe article on the state’s efforts to recycle many of the estimated 600,000 mattresses that state residents trash every year.
“We think it’s the right thing to do for the environment, while providing meaningful jobs to our young people,” said Gregg Croteau, executive director of UTEC. Read more about the state of Massachusetts mattress recycling plans and how UTEC is playing an important role! Congrats UTEC!
Finger Lakes ReUse Wins EPA’s Highest Award!
Cascade Alliance member, Finger Lakes ReUse won EPA’s 2015 Environmental Champion Award in recognition of its accomplishments in transforming waste into jobs and job skills training opportunities for the community. The Ithaca, NY-based nonprofit Finger Lakes ReUse is dedicated to helping communities benefit from reuse by reducing waste, relieving poverty, and teaching job skills. Congratulations!
OppShop opening a huge success!! (7/23/15)
Watch news coverage of the opening day of Cascade Alliance member the Opportunity House’s first retail thrift store. See how the OppShop is improving lives and providing employment for people with barriers in Reading, PA. We’re so happy to be part of this journey with our friends at the Opportunity House!
Many hands make light work! (7/9/15)
The countdown has begun. . . In just 2 weeks, Cascade Alliance member Opportunity House will open the doors of its first retail thrift store–The OppShop! Retail thrift experts from SVdP are in Reading, PA to help them fill the shelves, train staff, and ensure a smooth opening.
Proceeds from the OppShop will enable The Opportunity House to assist more children, families and adults who face obstacles to independent living. Great work everyone!
Mustard Seed (Orlando, FL) hosts SVdP (7/1/15)
Dave Tussing, SVdP special projects manager, spent time in Orlando, Florida this week helping Cascade Alliance member The Mustard Seed streamline their mattress recycling and retail thrift operations. In this picture, Dave and Mustard Seed mattress recyclers are admiring their new air compressor (provided by the Cascade Alliance), which they’ll use to clean their equipment–resulting in fewer equipment breakdowns and more efficiency. We’re glad to be helping such a worthy organization!
Excitement builds for new OppShop in Reading, PA (6/25/15)
The Opportunity House is a multiservice organization in Reading, PA benefiting children, families and adults who face obstacles to independent living. With assistance from the Cascade Alliance, they are poised to open the OppShop–their first retail thrift store–to bring in more revenue for their programs and help the community. (Read more about the OppShop opening in the Reading Eagle.)
Scrap Exchange improves sales! (6/24/15)
The Scrap Exchange (Durham, NC) has increased its revenue after implementing retail lessons learned as a member of the Cascade Alliance. On a visit to The Scrap Exchange, Sue Palmer, Cascade Alliance director, snapped this picture of Ann Woodward, SE executive director, and Madeline James, SE store manager, standing in front of their new, more prominent display of fabric scraps that has boosted sales. So happy to be helping The Scrap Exchange prosper!
Opportunity House’s OppShop coming soon! (6/16/15)
Cascade Alliance member Opportunity House is opening its first retail thrift store in Reading, PA this summer in the Penn Plaza Shopping Center. We are excited about this new venture for OppHouse and the Reading community!
Park City Green’s mattress recycling featured! (5/26/15)
Cascade Alliance member Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises was one of two businesses selected by the state of Connecticut to recycle mattress under the state’s new mattress recycling law, which began on May 1, 2015. Their operation, called Park City Green, was featured on the local NPR affiliate!
Cascade Alliance 2nd Annual “Work the Problem Weekend”! (5/14-16/15)
Twenty people representing 10 Cascade Alliance member groups gathered in Eugene, OR last weekend to Work the Problem! With SVdP staff in attendance, members shared their stories of successes and challenges. The agenda included presentations by SVdP staff about commodities markets, opening a pop-up shop and worker safety, plus break out sessions, workshops and behind-the-scene tours of SVdP operations! We all worked together to learn from each other and grow our waste-based businesses to protect the environment fund our social service programs! For more information about becoming a Cascade Alliance member, click here.
Why we’re here: Three cheers for collaboration! (5/12/15)
Problem: The Up Center in Norfolk, VA had excess books and book collection bins, while the Opportunity House in Reading, PA needed books and a way to collect them.
Solution: Through the Cascade Alliance, each organization became aware of the other’s needs and stepped up to help! Just this week, the Opportunity House received from The Up Center 5 large book donation bins filled with books to be placed around Reading (once emptied, of course!).
End Result: Success!
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation releases Cascade Alliance accomplishments report (4/30/15)
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released “Waste-Based Social Enterprise Supports Job Training, Jobs, and Services” describing the key results and lessons learned midway through their funding of the Cascade Alliance. Congratulations team!
“The long-term vision is that people want to be part of the Cascade Alliance because it gives them a competitive advantage in the real marketplace to attack social problems in their community.”—SVDP Terry McDonald
New Pop-up Shop a great success in Bridgeport, CT! (4/29/15)
Cascade Alliance member, Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, opened its first one day pop-up shop selling used books and crafts made by local artisans. Congratulations GBCE! Watch out for their next pop-up shop on May 23rd.
Coming Soon… DR3 Mattress Recycling in Northern California
We would like to thank REDF for collaborating with SVdP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in starting a mattress recycling facility in Northern California to create jobs. REDF is a California nonprofit that creates jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work.
Cascade Alliance Conference in Eugene, Oregon (5/2015)
We are holding our next conference for Cascade Alliance members May 14-16, 2015. Stay tuned for registration info. If you would like to learn more about becoming a member go here.
Book and Media Sales Report (4/2015)
Just in . . . Cascade Alliance members have submitted their monthly books sales reports for May 2014 – March 2015. Keep up the good work everyone! (See members section for details.)
Cascade Alliance at Santa Fe Art Festival (12/5-7/14)
Cascade Alliance and St Vincent de Paul of Lane County attended the Santa Fe Art Festival Dec 5-7. It was an opportunity to connect the Southwest with Cascade Alliance Upcycling and recycling projects. The show was a hit and we sold 313 items! For every upcycled product we sell, we are keeping materials out of the landfill, creating revenue for our social programs and creating real jobs!
Cascade Alliance at ReuseConex Conference in Austin (10/23-25/14)
Cascade Alliance and St Vincent de Paul of Lane County (SVdP) attended the 2014 ReuseConex Conference in Austin Texas Oct 23-25. SVdP’s Executive Director Terry McDonald was a distinguished speaker at the conference, and we distributed information regarding waste based business and displayed examples of upcycled fashion products created from recycled materials.
Cascade Alliance held our first annual conference Sep 18-20 in Eugene, Oregon. Attendees included nonprofits from across the country. The agenda included distinguished speakers, break out sessions, workshops and tours highlighting local business. If you’re interested in joining the Alliance, please fill out a brief questionnaire.
Mattress Recycling Council Releases Educational Videos
The Mattress Recycling Council, formed by International Sleep Products Association has released an educational video prmoting mattresses recycling for retailers in Conecticutt, California and Rhode Island. You can find Bed Times article HERE, and links to the videos HERE.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation featured in Chronicle of Philanthropy
Philanthropy.com recently featured an interview with Risa Lavizzo-Mourey to discuss how the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is adjusting to shifts in U.S. public health issues. You can read the interview HERE.