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Recycling Mattresses: Why We Should Do It, and How It Works

Recycling Mattresses: Why We Should Do It, and How It Works

A good quality mattress lasts for years, but it does need replacing after seven years of service.

While getting a new mattress is easy enough, safely disposing of your old one can be a headache. Typically, mattress pick-up and recycling can be operated by a local council, but rates can oscillate wildly depending on your location.

Thankfully, if you’re in the latter category, we’ve got your back. Many times, consumers ask what the benefits of recycling mattresses are, but the advantages are truly boundless. Here’s how and why you should recycle your old mattresses:

 

What Are The Benefits of Recycling Your Mattress?

Each year approximately 15 – 20 million mattresses are bought by UK residents, and 35 – 40 million are bought in the US.

In the UK, around 10 million mattresses are then discarded, and approximately 15 million in the US. That’s equivalent to every single person in Egypt dumping their mattress once they were done which, obviously, is bad news for people’s pockets and the environment.

Since mattresses take up a large amount of space, nearly one and half billion feet of landfill space is occupied by them each year.

On top of this, mattresses are made from both organic and inorganic materials. While the organic materials will break down within a few years, its synthetic materials may take decades to break down.

If that wasn’t bad enough, mattresses also contain chemicals such as bleaches and dyes which cause ground pollution. These chemicals are incredibly toxic to animals and plants, and although landfill sites have taken measures to limit the effect the chemicals have on surrounding habitats, ecosystems are still routinely contaminated and destroyed.

 

Which Parts of the Mattress is Recyclable?

Which parts, then, are recycling centres and businesses after when they recycle mattresses? These include:

• Metal Springs - The metal springs of the mattress are melted down to make a variety of light iron-based products and scrap.

• Wadding - The wadding, a term used to describe the mattress filling, can be used in a variety of ways depending on the material used. Polyester wadding, for example, can be utilised in the fibre bending industry, going on to be re-used in cushions and other soft assortments.

• Foam - The foam of the mattress is usually cleaned, processed and baled before being sent off as refuse-fuel or alternative carpeting.

• Mattress covering - Mattressing cover varies in quality, but the selection on the better end of the scale can be re-used in a variety of ways. Usually, due to the possibility of contamination, the fibres are processed as refuse-fuel.

 

How Mattress Disposal and Recycling Works

As it turns out, the recycling process is actually a lot simpler than you think:

1. To begin with, the top layer of the mattress is cut, peeled and separated from the interior materials.

mattress recycling
(Source: Manchester Mattress Recycling)

2. Secondly, the interior materials are pulled apart and divided by type.

new-pocket-spring-image
(Source: Let's Recycle)

3. Finally, soft commodities such as foam are baled and compressed for transport to factories in order to be reused.

And that’s that. Mattress disposal contains no magic, no sorcery, just good old productive use of modern technology.

The Boston Globe did an in-depth video about mattress recycling, detailing the nitty-gritty of recycling this oft-forgotten resource:

What Becomes of the Majestic Mattress?

The steel springs and the bed frame can be melted down to create new building materials at a lower cost. Foam from inside the mattress actually makes for an effective carpet underlay, and the wood is usually shredded into landscaping mulch.

The mattress recycling journey goes to show that one recycled mattress not only helps the environment but the everyday tradesman too.

That’s that! Pretty straightforward, right?

If you’d like to know more about the ins and outs of majestic mattresses, then take a look at a few of our blogs to the right of this page.

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