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Below is a copy of the guide accompanying the map. We learned a lot about mattresses recycling in the process of putting this together. We would be glad to help if anyone has any questions about mattress recycling in the future.
JUST BOUGHT A NEW MATTRESS? RECYCLE YOUR OLD MATTRESS!
So you just bought a new mattress and are ready to finally get a good night’s sleep? You set up the mattress on your bed frame. You lay down on it for second and relish in the comfort you will soon be experiencing every night. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your old, ugly, worn out mattress. What are you going to do with that thing? It’s a question that all new mattress buyers grapple with.
KEEP YOUR OLD MATTRESS OUT OF A LANDFILL!
Before we discuss some great eco-friendly options for disposing of your mattress, let’s discuss where you don’t want your mattress to end up, a landfill. Almost 20 million mattresses are sent to a landfill or incinerator every year in the United States. This results in 450 million pounds of material occupying over 100 million cubic feet of landfill space. Conventional Mattresses are a terrible addition to landfills. They are difficult to compact and take up a large amount of space. Conventional mattresses contain synthetic foam and fibers which are not biodegradable. Additionally, most conventional mattresses contain hazardous flame retardant chemicals which can potentially work their way into our drinking water.
MATTRESSES ARE 85%-95% RECYCLABLE!
The great tragedy of the vast quantities of mattresses which end up in landfills is that most materials in mattresses can be recycled. According to mattress recyclers, 85% to 95% of the material used in a mattress can be recycled.
HERE'S A LOOK AT SOME OF THE MOST COMMON RECYCLABLE MATERIALS FOUND IN MATTRESSES:
The average mattress contains 25 pounds of steel. By weight, steel makes up the largest component of an average mattress. With steel recycling facilities across the USA, it is also the easiest component to recycle. One issue that mattress recyclers can have is compacting steel springs enough so that they can be transported to a scrapyard in a cost effective manner. Once removed from the mattress, the steel can be melted down and reused.
Polyurethane foam is a large component of most mattresses. It also has a fairly established process for being recycled. Foam can be shredded and sold to carpet padding manufactures. Carpet padding manufacturers compress the shredded foam and bond the shredded pieces together to create carpet padding. Thicker “rebond” foam can also be created through a similar process. Rebond foam can be found in cars seating, motorcycle seating, exercise equipment and many other applications where extremely dense foam is needed.
Natural Fibers such as cotton can be shredded or pulled into fibers. If fibers are pulled, they are done so to produce yarn. This yarn will then be cleaned and respun before being reused in another textile application. If the fibers are shredded they will go through a similar cleaning process before being used as a filling in a new application such as a sofa cushion, dog bed or even another mattress.
Synthetic fibers such as polyester are shredded and granulated into small polyester “chips”. These chips can be melted and used in new polyester textiles. Many clothing items and mattress fabrics are being produced which incorporate recycled polyester.
CONSIDER REUSING YOUR MATTRESS
Before you call up your local mattress recycling facility, there are some other options you may want to consider. Consider giving your old mattress to a friend or family member. Many old mattresses can be given new life with a new comfortable mattress topper. Putting your old mattress back into use is the ultimate way to recycle your mattress. It is the least energy intensive and most cost effective way to get rid of your old mattress. If you can not find anyone that will take your mattress, you may be able to give it away (or sell it) on craigslist. You can also check with local charities or thrift stores to see if they accept used mattresses. (This is becoming harder due to the increasing presence and awareness of bed bugs) Be sure to check with the charity to ensure your mattress can be reused. The most common mattress size in the US is Queen but charities are usually most in need of Twin or Twin XL mattresses.
MATTRESS RECYCLING IS AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE
So you’ve have tried the suggestions above and still can’t get rid of your mattress? It's time to find a mattress recycling facility and get that mattress recycled! Check out our list of mattress recyclers to find the best option near you. We have tried to ensure all of the information is as complete and accurate as possible but you should call to confirm before dropping your mattress off. If you have any additional information we can add to our list, please let us know!
LaBlanc, Rick. "Textile Recycling to Divert Material From Landfills." About Textile Recycling. About.com, n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. < recycling.about.com/od/Glossary/a/About-Textile-Recycling.htm >.
"DOR Mattress Recycling." DOR Home. Iowa State University, n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. < www.housing.iastate.edu/life/sustainability/mattress-recycling >.
Grayson, Jennifer. "Eco Etiquette: Used Mattresses - Icky Or Eco?" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 July 2011. Web. 30 May 2014. < www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-grayson/...mattre_b_905152.html >.
Fowler, Carol. "Mattress Recycling: Industry Calls For National Plan - Viewpoints Articles." Viewpoints Articles. Viewpoints, 18 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. < www.viewpoints.com/expert-reviews/2014/0...calls-national-plan/ >.
Great post and information ... Thank you
I've added your link and a link to your post to the mattress recycling information in post #2 here .
I'm curious because of what happened today:
I brough my old latex mattress (a queen size Ikea "Favorit" - a single slab of latex in a polyester and cotton zippered cover) to a local mattress recycling dropoff. There's no fee for up to five mattresses.
They told me that latex foam cannot be recycled and they would dispose of it for a $20 fee.
I told them that I'd checked the list of ineligible items before coming, and latex was not in the list.
The list is here at the Mattress Recycling Council: byebyemattress.com/faqs/#toggle-id-7
And it's reproduced at the local Habitat For Humanity ReStore site (they're a dropoff center for the Council):
The worker called his supervisor, and the supervisor confirmed that they don't accept latex for recycling.
I just wanted to get rid of it (it's heavy and difficult to move, and I have a very small house), so I paid the $20.
It was frustrating to have to pay, but more importantly, I'm disappointed that it will end up in a landfill. I'm wondering if it's just this particular program that doesn't recycle latex, or if nobody does.
At least my new mattress is all natural latex, cotton, and wool. It should last a long time, and presumably will biodegrade if/when it ends up in a landfill.
But since environmental concerns were a factor in my purchase decision, this is concerning.
Thanks for adding to this thread. I am not an expert in the "recycling" are of the mattress world, so I was also reading the links and trying to decipher what is going on.
I think I understand that you can recycle any other traditional mattress for free....but when you brought your simple Ikea latex mattress, this is not accepted as free, hence you paid a $20 fee. So if you had 4 other "old" innerspring mattresses with foam and coils and polyester, etc they would have been free?
Am I understanding this correctly?
Of course, your new mattress will last a long time, which is very important, but "biodegradable" is a general term. Virtually every man-made product is biodegradable because everything eventually breaks down into more basic particles. When people use the term biodegradable, they are really referring to the rate at which something breaks down. Items made from natural latex are biodegradable but they biodegrade at a much slower rate than other substances. But, natural latex does degrade at a much faster rate than synthetic latex.
If I find any more on this I will also update this thread.
Sensei wrote: I think I understand that you can recycle any other traditional mattress for free....but when you brought your simple Ikea latex mattress, this is not accepted as free, hence you paid a $20 fee. So if you had 4 other "old" innerspring mattresses with foam and coils and polyester, etc they would have been free?
The $20 is not a recycling fee but rather a disposal fee - i.e., paying them to take it to a landfill.
The five mattress limit is for recycling. I don't know if a non-recyclable mattress would count towards that limit or not.
Ok I understand your point about recycling fee -vs- disposal fee. Thanks for clarifying. The amount of returns from the online bedding business in the past 5 years is astronomical, so many going to landfill!
I do see that many of the online companies are using "Sharetown" to pick up and find a home for the online returns. Interesting business model they have.
one more not on latex recycling. I have also seen that a number of times where stores/manufacturers advertise that their latex mattresses are 100% biodegradable (well usually the term biodegradable is used by itself to convey that meaning).
Latex as a natural sap is in fact biodegradable. When I talked with the guys from Raidum (Netherlands) who produce the Vita Talalay (and the same will be true for other companies, or worse depending how "natural" their latex is), they confirmed this as well BUT they also said that during the foaming process, which turns the latex sap into a mattress shape, there are some substances (in their case these substances are testes and all that) that are added to create what they call polymers. These polymers, although mostly latex, will not biodegrade. So at the end of the day when one of their latex mattresses gets old, a lot of material will have vanished, but you end up with a pile of material (the sum of the polymers). In Europe this leftover material can be brought to a recycling point and is typically used for floor insulation. In North America I don't see it being used for anything since real recycling is not a thing here (speaking out of Canada).