Mattresses On The Re-bound
Alex Murray says we must stop sending mattresses to landfill

Did you know....20 million mattresses make their way to landfill in this country every year? This is ludicous and we need to find ways to re-use them.

The main reason most of us need to get rid of a mattress is because we’ve got ourselves a lovely new one. But while some companies remove the old within the delivery agreement for your new purchase, plenty won’t.
So, we're left with the problem of how to get rid of the old one..and in some areas this disposal is solved by the careless, non-eco method of discarding it in the neighbourhood, in other words 'fly-tipping'
In others, effort is made to take the offending old mattress to the local landfill, where it fulfils a dubious destiny as one of some 20 million thrown into landfill each year, where it may or may not biodegrade depending on the materials it’s made of. Although this effort smacks of trying to do the right thing for disposal, there’s a better option – recycling.
Mattresses Moving On
There are several ways to recycle a mattress, all of which have the advantage of being the good thing to do environmentally - although several methods have distinct disadvantages:
Freegle / Freecycle: a local method for passing on unwanted items to those who may be able to use them, Freegle has a growing momentum in the UK. It'd be great to assume that the popularity of this pass-it-on method is due to a greater collective social and eco-consciousness, but sadly it’s mostly influenced by the economic climate – Freegle is a way to get a potentially useful item for nothing. However, the problem with using it for mattresses is that it can take a while to find someone who needs and wants it (strangely enough not everyone loves a pre-loved mattress: micro-dust mites, dead skin cells, stains and all), so this method is not necessarily a quick one.
Local council pick-up methods: Many town and city councils do now offer bulky item collection services, partly to help with recycling but for many in response to fly-tipping, preventing mattresses, old fridges and other unmentionables cluttering up the streets. Although this sounds like a viable option, for those places where the service is free particularly, the wait time for collection can be up to eight weeks (in Leeds, for example). Although an increasing number of councils offer this free collection service, in other areas collection comes at a cost, often on a sliding scale depending on how many items are to be collected. So, it might cost you £18 in Sheffield, £21 in Rotherham or £22 in Cambridge.
Private collection companies: Alternatively, there are a growing number of private companies that run collection services and have direct links with reputable recycling depots. Such companies - and they usually offer a local service within a certain radius of the depots - will not only pick up mattresses at a lower cost than the council, but also arrange more prompt collection. One of the cheapest at the time of writing is Collect Your Old Bed which operates nationwide and has prices from £9.99. This means that you, the customer, benefit from getting rid of the mattress cheaply and quickly, but with the reassurance that the mattress will be appropriately recycled. Just make sure you ask them for their waste carrier license before you contract their services, so you’re sure they are doing everything by the book. The Environment Agency also provides a search facility so you can find a registered waste carrier in your area.
Mattresses Coming Apart
The recycling process for a mattress largely depends on its material construction, but most recycling centres follow the same broad process of:
Separating types of mattress by material type.
Depending on the type of material, mattresses are then either mechanically shredded or manually stripped using specialist tools.
The by-products and materials extracted from the mattresses, such as polyester, foam, cotton and steel, are then bundled and passed on to other recycling outlets or manufacturers to re-start their future as another product …
Mattress on the Rebound
The fabrics and fibres salvaged from your old mattress could bounce back to you in new form:
*Cotton and foam could be recycled into pillow stuffing; furniture upholstery; carpet foam or underlay padding.
*Other textiles such as rayon and sisal might be recycled into new mattresses.
*Steel from sprung mattresses can be melted down for use in many other products.
*Wood from box springs is often chipped and recycled as garden mulch, animal bedding or used to for biomass fuel.
So, finally, if you’re environmentally-conscious, it’s worth enjoying a certain karma which comes from arranging for your old mattress to be properly recycled. Many more eco-friendly mattress brands are made including recycled textiles, so by recycling your mattress responsibly and buying eco-brands, you’re helping that next new mattress be more eco-friendly too.
eco friendly, recycling, upcycling