It’s never too late to go green. If it’s time to get rid of your old mattress, you can do something that will help out both the environment and your community—recycle!
Our guide will discuss the many benefits of recycling your mattress. In addition, we’ve got great tips on how to recycle your mattress safely and easily.
Why Should You Recycle Your Mattress?
Most of us have heard that recycling is good for the environment. However, we’d like to discuss exactly why mattress recycling is so important.
According to recent reports, more than 50,000 mattresses are thrown away in the US every day. Doing the math, that means Americans dispose of 18.2 million mattresses every year. The majority
of these mattresses are not recycled and end up in ever-growing landfills.
Landfills have a negative impact on our environment in a number of ways. Studies have shown that landfills leak into the surrounding area. The chemical runoff from landfills permeates the ground and makes drinking water unsafe. Because of this, birth defects are more common in areas close to landfills.
Landfills also produce a large amount of methane, a gas that has been linked to global warming and climate change. According to a recent EPA study, landfills give off as much methane as the emissions from 21.6 million passenger cars or 12 million homes.
The millions of mattresses that show up in landfills contribute to this issue. in addition, they do not compress or break down as easily as other discarded materials. According to the Seattle Times, “Mattresses don’t compact well. Even worse, the mattress springs pop out and get tangled in the equipment, often damaging it.”
Mattresses that don’t go to landfills often show up on the side of the road. Beyond being an obvious eyesore, illegally-dumped mattresses do a great deal of harm to our communities and environment. We spoke with the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), and they explained the many negative effects of improperly discarded mattresses:
“Illegally dumped goods “breed” more illegal dumping with trash, old appliances, construction debris suddenly filling the empty lot. Illegal dumping disrupts natural land and water, harms plants and wildlife, causes health and safety hazards, attracts disease-carrying pests like rodents and insects, pollutes water sources, decreases property values, and costs taxpayers millions in clean-up costs.”
Given that it is against the law, dumping also carries hefty fines of up to $10,000. What’s more, you could lose your vehicle or even face jail time if convicted of illegal dumping.
Recycled Materials Can Be Used For New Products
One of the major benefits of recycling any product, not just mattresses, is that we can use these recycled materials to create new products. In general, this cuts down on the energy used to harvest, process, and create new materials.
Mattresses contain many components that are useful in the creation of not just new mattresses, but many other types of products.
- Foams. You find all types of foam in mattresses including memory foam, polyfoam, and other types of proprietary foam. Recycled mattress foams are often used for padding in pet beds and for carpet underlayment.
- Fabrics. Mattresses feature fabric and fiber in their covers, batting, and comfort layers. These fabrics can be reused for other types of textiles and recycled mattress fabrics make great industrial oil filters.
- Coils. Many mattresses feature steel coils in their construction. These coils are recycled as scrap and are used to create new appliances.
- Wooden frame. Some older mattresses and most modern bed frames contain wood. Recycled wood is useful as garden mulch or can be burned as fuel.
Recycling Mattresses Helps Create New Jobs
Recycling is not only good for the environment but the economy as well. When you recycle your mattress and other products, you help to create more recycling jobs.
In 2016, the EPA released a report about the financial impact of recycling. They found that, in the US, recycling accounted for 681,000 jobs. These jobs made up for $37.8 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in tax revenue.
How To Recycle Your Mattress
Year by year, it becomes easier to recycle a mattress. Still, it isn’t always a streamlined process to get your old mattress from your house and to the proper recycling center. Follow these guidelines to make your mattress recycling experience as easy as possible.
Many bed in a box companies offer White Glove Delivery when you purchase a new mattress. This means delivery people will help set up the new mattress in your bedroom. In addition, some companies will take your old mattress away for recycling. If this is an option, it is going to be the easiest way to recycle your mattress.
If the company will not pick up your mattress, don’t fret. There are a few online resources that can help you find the nearest recycling center.
- Earth911. This recycling database allows you to search your area for centers that will accept mattresses.
- ByeByeMattress. This site is run by the MRC and will help you find mattress recycling centers in your state. According to the MRC, there are now 40 locations in 20 states.
You can also research your state, county, or local government websites to see if they have any information on bulk recycling pickup. Some municipalities will set aside a few days a year where recycling services will pick up larger items such as mattresses from your curb.
What Is The Mattress Recycling Council?
The MRC is a non-profit that educates the mattress industry and the public about the benefits of recycling. The MRC assists states who have put mattress recycling laws in place. Right now, they have programs in California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
Even though they are only working in three states, their impact has been enormous. Their rep told us, “The MRC this spring recycled its 10 millionth mattress through its statewide programs in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island. As a result of this work, more than 380 million pounds of steel, foam, fiber and wood have been diverted from landfills and recycled into new products.”
Breaking this down further, they explained that they transport around 10,000 truckloads every year from their 300 pickup sites to nearby recycling centers.
Next, the MRC will be expanding into Oregon.
What If You Can’t Recycle Your Mattress?
If mattress recycling services are not available in your area, here are some ways to dispose of your mattress safely.
- Donate. Donating your mattress is a great way to ensure it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Also, it could help someone less fortunate get a good night’s sleep. Organizations like The Salvation Army will even pick up your mattress from your house. However, this will not be an option if your mattress is older with serious wear and tear.
- Repurpose. If you can’t get your mattress to a recycling center, you can break it down yourself. Once you separate the materials, you can use the coils and foams for projects around the house.
- Large trash pickup. If all else fails, you can resort to large track pickup. Most municipalities offer large trash pickup at least a few times a year.
The MRC notes, “Whatever you do, do not just toss it out on the street, in a park, or a ditch. Contact your local government and ask them what you should do. It will probably still be landfilled, but at least you will be doing it properly.”
Can a mattress be recycled?
Yes, a mattress can be recycled. If you live in California, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, statewide initiatives make it easy to recycle your mattress. If you are not in one of these states, search online for the nearest recycling center.
How do you get rid of your mattress for free?
To get rid of your mattress for free, first check if your area does free recycling pickup. You may also be able to bring the mattress to a recycling center yourself. If there is not a recycling center nearby, your municipality might offer free trash pickup.
How are mattresses recycled?
When a mattress is being recycled, it is split up into its separate components. Foams are used to make pet beds, coils become new appliances, and fabrics are used to make new textile products.