Repair and Reuse Enterprises in Bridgeport, Connecticut

ILSR worked with the Deputy Mayor and U.S. EPA Region 1 to introduce successful social entrepreneurs in the recycling sector to city agencies, community organizations and private businesspeople through a workshop in June titled “Recycling and Economic Development.” One result was the collaboration of two nonprofits, the Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, a green technology and job-training group, and Family ReEntry, an employment and support organization for the formerly incarcerated. The Bridgeport BGreen 2020 Regional Plan Association is providing consulting services to integrate the project with other green business enterprises in the Bridgeport area.

Family ReEntry and Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises will develop a mattress recycling enterprise modeled after the one operated by St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County in Eugene, OR. The group is finalizing location, permits and licensing for the business to set up in a local warehouse.

They gained support from the state employment division to provide on-the-job-training funds. Operations are expected to start in the first quarter of 2011. Old mattresses and box springs will come from the area’s waste transfer stations, local universities, and hospitals. This will save these institutions money, as the cost to recycle is less than the cost to landfill or incinerate these hard to manage items. The enterprise will employ between 5 and 15 workers and handle up to 10,000 mattresses and box springs per month when fully operational.

Also as a result of the “Recycling and Economic Development” workshop, The ReUse People (TRP) opened a regional office to serve Bridgeport and the greater Connecticut area. TRP is a building materials salvage, deconstruction, and training company with affiliates in 6 cities and over 300 workers. The company has already deconstructed and salvaged four buildings with 18 trained workers from the Bridgeport area. Nationally, TRP has taken down over 2,000 buildings over the last 17 years.