Ever heard of mattress recycling?
If you have old or unwanted mattresses at your home, don’t throw them away. Instead, consider recycling them. While mattresses are not commonly recycled, it is certainly better to recycle them rather than sending them to landfills.
In this article, we cover the various aspects of recycling mattresses, including why they are hard to recycle, why is it important to recycle them, how is it typically done and the various benefits of recycling mattresses.
Why mattress recycling is difficult
Companies manufacture mattresses in ways such that they can stand rough and tough handling. If properly designed, they should not come apart easily. Given the strength of material, it should be difficult to tear the mattress apart manually or even using cutters.
A common mattress is usually 23 cubic feet, made of an assembly of various materials including foam, cotton, wood and steal. It is this wide mix of components that makes mattress recycling a daunting task.
That’s amongst the main reasons why many municipal recycling programs do not include mattresses in their list of recyclables.
Used mattresses often contain mould, bacteria, dust mites, viruses and spores, which also makes re-using difficult.
How is mattress recycling done
Given their toughness, mattresses are usually filleted with box cutters, which is a fairly time consuming process.
Another alternative to recycling them is to shred them but the specialized shredders are expensive and may not be a cost effective option.
The most common approach adopted by companies is to place the mattresses on conveyer belts which cut out the soft materials. The metal parts are then removed using magnetic fields, while the fiber is shredded. The steel and foam in the mattress can be recycled. The quality of wood and fabric in used mattresses is often very poor and doesn’t justify the recycling costs.
In recent times, the recycling efficiency of mattresses has increased manifold and a worker can easily recycle 20-25 mattresses per hour.
Advantages of recycling mattresses
- It offers higher financial incentive as an alternative to landfills.
- Recycled steel from the unwanted mattress can be used for construction purpose and is great cost saving.
- Recycled foam and felt unwanted mattress can be cleaned and used for making carpet pads and mattress pads, or even for your pet’s bedding.
- Landfill equipment problems created by mattress springs can be greatly reduced.
- We can have cleaner roadsides, with a reduction in illegal mattress dumping.
Read more about why is recycling is important in general.
Who does it
Given the complexities and challenges of recycling mattresses, it’s clearly a specialist’s job.
Many companies like Dreamsafe and Conigliaro Industries are experts in the recycling mattresses.
The St. Vincent De Paul Society of Lane County has set a great precedent for others to follow in mattress recycling. Their DR3 (Divert, Reduce, Recycle, Reuse) program is amongst the most successful recycling programs in the world. The idea behind DR3 program is simple – reclaim mattresses from landfills and recycle them. The program was started in December 2001 and a facility for recycling was setup in Alameda, California, which recycled nearly 300 mattresses in its very first week of existence.
If you are living in Metro Vancouver, you can send your mattresses to Canadian Mattress Recycling for recycling. This 100% locally-owned BC company located on Annacis Island in Delta, BC dismantles old mattresses and recycles as much as of the parts as they can. The parts can become carpet underlay and many other new steel, plastic, and wood products. Most of what are salvaged are sent to local manufacturers for reuse.
Read more about what to recycle besides mattress.
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