Looking for mattress recycling tips? Check out this info from Tuck Sleep on how to reducing the amount of waste in landfills with mattress recycling.
Did you know that nearly 8,000 mattresses find their way into landfills every day? While eco-friendly mattresses are on the market, we still have to dispose of the old ones. Mattresses are made of a combination of materials, that when separated, can be recycled and reused. While mattress recycling facilities are not common, as demand for recycling grows, more companies, organizations, and facilities will see the need, and we can keep mattresses from clogging landfills.
Break It Down to Recycle
Mattresses have to be deconstructed to reach the usable materials, but once the process has begun, many mattress components can be recycled. Recyclable components include:
- Steel: Innerspring mattresses contain as much as 25 pounds of steel. Once removed, that steel can be melted down to make auto parts, roofing, and construction materials.
- Poly Foam and Memory Foam: The foam used to make the comfort layer of the mattress can be shredded and used to make items that need dense foam like carpet padding or car seats.
- Fabric: The mattress cover can be removed, washed, shredded, and turned into thread or used to make other textiles.
- Wood: While mattresses themselves do not have a wood frame, many box springs and foundations do. The wood frame can be chipped or mulched to make paper or used in a garden.
While individual consumers can deconstruct their own mattress, it’s difficult and time-consuming. Recycling a mattress does take special facilities because of the deconstruction process. Working with and requesting mattress recycling from current recycling facilities is the most cost-effective method. Facilities that do offer this service often require a small fee, anywhere from $20 to $60, to dispose of the mattress. However, those fees are put to good use, often being used to:
- Purchase containers and materials at the collection site
- Transport to the facility
- Facilitate collection and recycling events
- Pay recycling facility personnel
Donate to Reuse
Mattress recycling is still a relatively new service. For those who may not have a facility nearby, mattress donation can sometimes be the better option. Many organizations take mattress donations that are resold or given to those in need. Keep in mind that the mattress must meet certain standards, especially with bed bug problems on the rise. Any donated mattress should be free from bugs, stains, and holes.
Some national and local charities and organizations take mattress donations but contact them before delivering a mattress as not all locations may accept it. Organizations to try include:
- The Salvation Army: This well-known international organization offers free furniture pickup in some areas and has forms to fill out for a tax deduction on your donation.
- Habitat for Humanity International: HFHI accepts mattresses and sells them at ‘ReStore’ home improvement centers. Some centers offer free pickup.
- Furniture Bank Association of America: With the goal of providing home furnishings at little or no cost, this organization will do large pickups for hotels and will travel up to 450 miles for large donations.
- Local Charities: Check with local charities and second-hand stores for organizations closer to home that will accept an old mattress.
When you are trying to dispose of an old mattress, you may be in the market for a new one. Be sure to try out mattresses at stores to confirm that it works for you. You can also look for new green labels that show mattresses that are made of organic latex, which is more biodegradable than other options. Hopefully, the next time you need a new mattress, there will be even more sustainable options available.
- Sara Westgreen, Researcher, Tuck Sleep
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
Photos provided by Tuck Sleep