You’ve suffered back pains. You’ve lost sleep and end up grumpy in the mornings. So you went ahead and read a ton of foam mattress reviews and decided to it’s time to replace your old, lumpy, sagging one. Now you are faced with a new dilemma. How will you dispose of the old one, in a way that will be environmentally friendly?
Millions of old mattresses end up in landfills every year. Though mattresses look ordinary, there are hazards associated with them that can be dangerous to the environment to landfill workers. The flame-retardant chemicals used on mattresses can seep down into the soil. Their size can create flammable air pockets, which can cause damage to landfill equipment. Mattresses are difficult to donate. They can double their weight in 10 years of use. Most charities do not accept mattresses, even those that have been cleaned by professionals. Recycling is also difficult because most recycling centres do not have the technology to disassemble mattresses.
There are still some things that you can do because some parts of mattresses can be recycled.
Many components make up a mattress. There are fabrics with buttons, stuffing, wood frame and steel springs. These items can be reused or recycled. You can sell the steel springs, and depending on the size, you can find about 300 to 600 steel coils in one mattress, and more if you have a high-quality one.
Foam and cotton make up the mattress stuffing. This could be used to stuff pillows, as carpet padding or in reupholstering furniture. The wood frame can be reused for carpentry work. It can also be disassembled and use for firewood or you can shred and use them as mulch for your lawn. Likewise, the fabrics can be cleaned and both the fabric and buttons can be reused.
If your carpenter friend or yourself cannot do this, there are some recycling facilities that accept bulky items. Their specially-designed machine will rip box spring mattresses to get the coil springs and separate the cotton and foam stuffing. Such facilities that are able to accept mattresses from the public for recycling might be difficult to find, though. Others might charge you a small fee.
You can search the Earth911.com website to locate a recycling facility near you. You can also check the site of International Sleep Products Association (ISPA). There are pilot programs in the UK although the UK Environment Agency advises people to contact the refuse department of their local council. Mattresses in commercial quantities are accepted by Matt UK for recycling.
You can try getting in touch with the manufacturer of your old mattress or the retailer who sold it to you and ask if they have a mattress recycling program. You can also ask if they have a facility they can recommend to take your old mattress away for recycling.
Think of the future, when you have to replace your current new mattress for another one. Buy one that is already eco-friendly. If possible, avoid a mattress with springs. Try to purchase one that use organic cotton, wool, hemp or bamboo, with natural latex cores and wood frames that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.