How to Recycle Mattresses

On Overview on Recycling Your Old Mattress

A good night’s sleep is essential for good health and a clear head, but when your mattress no longer provides the restful slumber you’re dreaming of, an upgrade is in order. So what do you do with your old mattress? Throwing it into the landfill definitely has environmental drawbacks:

  • Landfill space: Mattresses, as you know, are very bulky, and given that they’re thrown out at a rate of 1.25 million every year and take up three-quarters of a cubic meter (m3) in the landfill, they use up nearly 1 million m3 of landfill space annually.[1]
  • Lost resources: Mattresses are made of a variety of materials, most of which can be recycled, including fabric, cotton, steel, wood, and foam. Throwing mattresses in the landfill means those resources can no longer be used for new products.
  • Toxic dumping: Most conventional mattresses are made with harmful water and stain repellents as well as flame retardants such as metal oxide that are toxic to humans. When thrown in the dump, these mattresses leach the flame retardants into groundwater and soil, further contaminating the environment.

Recycling old mattresses is therefore preferable over tossing mattresses into the nightmare of your local landfill.

 

How to recycle mattresses

Because of the composite nature of mattresses, recycling programs have been a bit sparse, though the industry is now catching up. When mattresses are recycled, the materials are used to make many new products:

  • The foam is used to create carpet underlay and insulation for homes
  • The wood is chipped and used as a biofuel or in secondary consumer products
  • The fabric can be taken off and used to create new textiles and even oil filters in industrial machinery
  • The steel from springs is removed and recycled into new metal products

 

Recyclers such as Nine Lives Mattress Recycling, DR3 Mattress Recycling, MattCanada, Congliaro Industries, and Dreamsafe work with a variety of recycling collection companies and organizations to turn your used mattresses into new products. But generally, they do not accept mattresses for recycling directly from consumers. Instead, you need to go through the following channels to find mattress recycling programs:

  • Look for take-back programs: When looking for a new mattress, be sure to buy from a company with a built-in take-back program. This means that they promise to recycle the mattress you purchase from them when you’re done with it. Our recycling database has a few companies with such policies.
  • Buy from companies with mattress recycling: Some mattress retailers also have environmental programs that include recycling of mattresses. When you buy a mattress from them, they will offer mattress pick-up services and then clean and refurbish it, and then redistribute it to charities in your local area. This type of program makes recycling your mattress nearly pain-free! See our recycling database for options.
  • Donate: Some charities and thrift stores will take secondhand mattresses and sell them in their stores or donate them to those in need, though you need to confirm this before you deliver it to their door. Alternatively, look for a local women’s shelter, animal shelter, or other nonprofit in your area to see if they can use a secondhand mattress.
  • Mattress recycling: There are a few mattress recycling programs, though it may take some digging to find them. You can do an online or yellow pages search for your country/town name “mattress recycling” to see what you find. Alternatively, check out our recycling resources for a list of companies offering such programs.
  • Landfill programs: Many communities, knowing how much space is wasted by mattresses, will have a recycling program at the landfill site. Call your local solid waste management authority to see whether they have any such programs for recycling old mattresses.





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References

 

1  Recycling Brief. (2004, August 10). Retrieved August 2010, 2010, from The Australian Council of Recyclers: http://www.acor.org.au/e-letters/ACOR_e-letter_August_2004.htm

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