Recycling Your Mattress

After purchasing a new mattress, you may be wondering what you should do with your old one. Recycling your mattress is one of the best options. It is estimated that 50,000 mattresses are taken to U.S. landfills every day. Each mattress taking up about 40 cubic feet of landfill space. This takes a significant toll on our planet. The good news is that this kind of waste is avoidable. And fortunately, between 80 and 90 percent of a mattress’ components can be recycled and made into new products. It has been difficult to find places to recycle mattresses in the past, but that is changing. A handful of companies and nonprofit groups are fighting to keep mattresses out of landfills. Subsequently, it is becoming increasingly easier to find places that will recycle your mattress.

How Mattresses are Recycled

Mattresses and box springs are first placed on a conveyor belt. There special saws cut away soft materials on the top and bottom. This separates the polyurethane foam and cotton fiber from the framework. Then metal pieces are magnetically removed. Metal springs from box springs are then extracted and sent to scrap recyclers that sell the metal to steel mills and foundries. The remaining materials are shredded, baled and compressed for transport to scrap dealers and other companies that will use them to make new products. The process of disassembling a used mattress has become extremely efficient. It now takes one worker only about 3-4 minutes per mattress.

The Benefits of Recycling

Mattress recycling conserves resources by reusing steel, foam and other materials in order to produce new products. It reduces reliance on incinerators and saves valuable space at landfills. Also, landfill equipment problems created by mattress springs can be greatly reduced. Being able to recycle mattresses greatly reduces the amount of illegally dumped mattresses while having the added benefit of creating more recycling jobs.

The Mattress Recycling Council operates the Bye Bye Mattress programs in states that have enacted mattress recycling laws. Currently, these states include Connecticut, California and Rhode Island. However, other states also offer many places to recycle your old mattress at little to no cost. You can use the locator on the Bye Bye Mattress website to find the nearest mattress collection site or recycling facility. Many cities also provide free bulk recycling pickup for residents.

If you are unable to find a recycling center near you, another great option is to try to donate your mattress to a local church, homeless shelter or charity. However, because of health department laws and sanitary reasons, many places like the Salvation Army and Goodwill are unable to accept used mattresses. These places also generally only accept mattresses that are less than fifteen years old and mattresses that do not have any rips, tears or stains. If you are having a difficult time recycling or donating your mattress to a charity, you can try giving your mattress away on Freecycle or try to sell it on sites like Craigslist or Facebook.