Mattress Recycling & The Products Made from Recycled Mattresses
Every day, you likely come into contact with products made from recycled mattresses. So why not give mattress recycling a try for yourself? The planet will thank you.
Feb 12th, 2021 •
We all know the environmentalist motto: reduce, reuse, recycle. With each passing year, more opportunities are popping up for Americans to do just that.
The rapid growth of these environmentally-friendly alternatives is represented by new businesses and popular culture. Take the Macklemore hit song, “Thrift Shop.” What was once occupied by the sparse GoodWill or Salvation Army is now a booming business. From trendy, upscale, secondhand stores to online companies like OfferUp.com, there is no shortage of places to buy high-quality used goods.
But reusing comes with its limits—nothing has an indefinite shelf life. And when it comes to mattresses, there is a lot of potentially valuable material found within.
Target: Mattress Waste
Most of us consider mattresses a necessity (outside of the few who opt to sleep on the floor, but that’s another story). Even a mattress comprised of durable materials is unlikely to get you much more than 10 good years of use.
In the United States alone, 50,000 mattresses are discarded in landfills daily. When you consider the size of a mattress, the negative impact of this waste on the environment is hard to ignore.
Just consider the volume of mattress waste alone. Each mattress takes up about 23 cubic feet of space in a landfill. If you lined up the 20 million mattresses dumped in landfills each year in the US alone, it would nearly wrap around the earth’s equator!
And there can be some pretty sketchy stuff in a mattress. From toxic flame retardants to heavy metals and formaldehyde, it is best for the environment that these compounds are dealt with intentionally.
Rather than pile these mattresses up and ignore the problem, people across the world are beginning to step up and create better alternatives.
There is a Better Way: Mattress Recycling
Most of us separate recyclables from trash each week. It is simple to do and valuable for the health of our world and the creatures that live here. But did you know that you can recycle mattresses, too?
The mattress recycling process is impressively efficient. According to the Mattress Recycling Council, up to 80% of a mattress can be recycled and reused. Not only does this decrease the quantity of waste that piles up in landfills each year, but it also reduces the need for more of these materials to be extracted from the earth.
Nearly every type of mattress and box spring can be recycled. This includes traditional innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses, and hybrid mattresses. Box springs, too, are eligible for recycling.
Mattress accessories, such as pillows and mattress pads, are typically not accepted by mattress recycling facilities. Neither are things like futon mattresses, collapsible mattresses, water beds without upholstery material, or camping air mattresses. Check out Bye Bye Mattress for more details.
The Products Made from Recycled Mattresses
When your mattress is recycled, it will be dismantled and the materials within sorted. These materials and the products they create include:
- Steel Springs and Metal: Metal recycling involves the creation of usable scrap metal. Scrap metal is sold to factories that produce a variety of metal products, including steel building materials.
- Foam and Plastic: Foams and plastics can be used in carpet pads and animal beds.
- Wood: The wood is broken down into chips and used as fuel or mulch.
- Quilting, Cotton, and Other Fabrics: Uses for these materials include insulation, oil filters, yarn, and other textiles.
Where Can You Recycle Your Mattress?
For residents of California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, recycling a used mattress is pretty straightforward as a result of statewide mattress recycling programs. Thanks to state law, every mattress sold in these states includes a mattress recycling fee. For residents of these states, visit Bye Bye Mattress for ways to recycle your old mattress.
For the rest of us, it is a bit more difficult to recycle a used mattress. There are a few options that you may have once it comes time to say goodbye to your sleep partner of many years.
1. Is Your Mattress Reusable?
Before you consider recycling your mattress, first make sure that it isn’t reusable. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The only option more environmentally-friendly thank recycling is reusing an old mattress.
Take a look at your mattress objectively. As long as it is in acceptable shape, there may be someone out there who would be happy to take your bed off of your hands—you could even donate it. You can post a used mattress on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
2. Does Your New Mattress Come with an Old Mattress Recycling Option?
The mattress industry is involved in recycling efforts. A good mattress company will often offer their customers recycling services for their old mattress. Many of these companies work directly with different mattress recycling companies. A quick phone call or email may lead to someone coming to take the mattress off of your hands and delivering it into those of a recycler.
3. Where Can You Recycle in Your Area?
Your mattress recycling options will depend on where you live. Visit Earth911.com or call 1-800-GOT-JUNK to find a mattress recycler in your area. There may be a small fee involved. Depending on the company, they may offer to pick up the mattress at your home, or you might need to drop it off yourself.
When it comes time to get rid of your old mattresses and box springs, avoid sending them to a landfill. There are far better options. You may be able to rehome a mattress or box spring in good condition, and for those that are at the end of their lifespan, recycling makes a difference. Up to 80% of the recycled materials will be given a new life in things like carpet padding, mulch, and textiles. This is much better than taking up valuable landfill space.
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