DEEP: Mattress Recycling

Mattress Recycling
 
 
 
Mattresses and box springs become problematic once they reach the end of their useful life.  Since they are bulky and hard to move, disposal is difficult and increasingly expensive for municipalities. As a result, they often become an illegal dumping problem found on curbs, vacant lots, and roadsides.  There is no easy way to dispose of mattresses because they are not only difficult to landfill, but also pose challenges for some incinerators due to their inability to be easily compressed and crushed, and become tangled in equipment.
 
However, mattress recycling has been increasing as an alternative to landfilling or incineration. Many components found in a mattress can be recycled, such as foam, cotton, wood, and the steel springs.  Recyclers in the business of dismantling mattresses and box springs can recover 80-95% of the materials for reuse or recycling.
 
 
In 2013, Connecticut became the first state to pass comprehensive mattress recycling legislation.  Public Act 13-42 requires mattress manufacturers to establish a program to manage unwanted mattresses generated in Connecticut. The law will assess a fee at the point of sale to finance the program.  When a consumer purchases a new mattress, there will be an additional fee charged.  The retailer will transfer this money to the mattress manufacturers who will use it to pay for transportation and recycling of unwanted mattresses.  The government does not administer this program or control the funds collected. The mattress manufacturers are required to submit a plan to the DEEP by July 1, 2014.  If approved, the plan will be implemented in late 2014 to early 2015.  In order to provide the mattress industry with the information necessary to draft the best plan possible, DEEP is convening a stakeholder working group.  Municipalities, recyclers, mattress manufacturers, environmental groups, entrepreneurs and any other interested parties are invited to participate.
 
 
In the past, “recycling” a mattress was often mistakenly viewed as putting a new cover on an old mattress.  However, this is not recycling.  Even so, it is important to recognize that mattresses can be and are reused in their original form.  To help understand issues related to safety, health and the environment, a few commonly confused terms have been listed below.
 
Reuse – Mattresses and upholstered furniture in Connecticut can be used again as mattresses and furniture.  Individuals and businesses can legally donate these materials (though they should be in good, clean condition).  Thrift shops or other reuse businesses can only resell mattresses and upholstered furniture with proper licenses from the CT Department of Consumer Protection. 
 
 Please Note
It is illegal for any storefront/retailer to sell, rent, or renovate any used bedding or upholstered furniture without the proper license and permit, and proper sanitization/sterilization methods.  These statutes and regulations are enforced by the CT Department of Consumer Protection’s Bedding and Upholstered Furniture Program
 
 
Refurbishing/Remanufacturing/Rebuilding/Renovating - There are some companies that ‘refurbish’, ‘remanufacture’, ‘rebuild’ or ‘renovate’ used mattresses.  There are also a few companies in the U.S. that provide the service of rebuilding your mattress for you.  Both include stripping down the mattress and replacing the cotton, foam, insulator, and covering (retaining only the original springs), and remaking the mattress as good as new.  Companies that take old mattresses and put new covers on them are not refurbishing the mattress.  If companies remove the old covering first and then replace it – they are still not refurbishing.  To renovate, refurbish, rebuild or remanufacture bedding (includes mattress and box spring) new filling material needs to be added.  Bedding and upholstered furniture statutes and regulations are enforced by the CT Department of Consumer Protection.
 
Recycling – Recycling happens when the steel, foam etc. are recovered, boxed or baled and sold to recycling markets.  These markets may continue to process materials or create new products from the raw materials recovered from the mattresses and box springs.
 
Some recycling businesses will remove the steel frame and then landfill or incinerate the remaining parts of the mattress.  Dismantlers, however, recover much of the different components that make up a mattress and box spring (wood, metal, foam, fabric) and have recycling markets for 80 – 90% of the original product. 
 
Prolong the life of your mattress by following the manufacturer's instructions, which generally involves turning it four times a year. 
 
 
 
 What’s in a Mattress?
 
A mattress is made up of metal (mostly steel), wood, cotton batting, paper, fiberfill, urethane foam, and other miscellaneous textiles.
{Cut-Away of Mattress}
It typically has 9 pounds of cotton and 25 pounds of steel.  It's composition is roughly:
 
30% metal
38% cotton
10% foam
4 % wool shoddy

Overall these numbers vary, and continue to change as manufacturers adjust how they make beds and the materials they use to make them.
The wood, metal springs and cotton are removed from the mattress.  The remaining foam is usually torn up, although some recycling facilities are more sophisticated and utilize shredding machines to shred the foam. The wood is typically sold to wood chippers and used as a fuel source. The cotton and foam are sold to companies that use the materials for insulation and carpet padding. The steel from the metal springs is usually sold to steel recycling companies who melt it down to make new products.
 
There are quite a number of uses for a mattress, and a dedicated recycling facility can recycle up to 90 percent of the mattress.   Most mattress dismantlers make some money selling raw materials, but usually request a fee per unit to cover all the costs of recovering the maximum amount of materials.  In addition to conserving resources recovered through mattress recycling, landfill and incinerator operators will experience reduced handling and disposal challenges, and other businesses engaged in material processing or new product development will have access to the recovered raw materials.
 
 
 
The Connecticut Coalition Against Bed Bugs (CCABB) suggests if bed bugs are found on a mattress and/or box spring they either be put into encasements and tagged as infested or marked (spray painted) as infested and slashed/defaced/cut up/damaged to prevent reuse and further infestation.  Managers of transfer stations, landfills, mattress recycling facilities, and incinerators are encouraged to review CCABB’s Best Practices for Bed Bug Management of Mattresses, Bedding, and Upholstered Furniture: Guidance Document for the Reuse/Resale and Recycling Industries in Connecticut (2011) to ensure that staff are taking precautions not to bring bed bugs home with them.
{Bed Bug on Skin}  
DO NOT donate or give away mattress and/or box springs if they have bed bugs! Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices, such as seams, tufts, labels, and corner protectors. They leave behind black spots (fecal matter).
 
{Bed bug}  
 
 
There are mattress recycling options available for Connecticut municipalities, businesses and institutions! 
 
Bloomfield, CT
Recyc-Mattresses Corp.
101 West Dudley Town Road, Bloomfield, CT 06002
Toll Free 1-855-RECYC-CT (732-9228)
 
Bridgeport, CT
Park City Green – A Mattress Recycling Company
459 Iranistan Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604
203-334-7336 (203-33-GREEN)
 
Framingham, MA
Nationwide Mattress Recycling
Conigliaro Industries, Inc.
701 Waverly Street, Framingham, MA 01702
Toll Free 1-877-311-0172
 
 
 
The Connecticut DEEP is now conducting survey of Connecticut residents concerning the purchase of new mattresses.  This information will provide valuable information to the department to establish a program to increase mattress recycling. Thank you for taking a minute to complete this survey.
 
 
In spring of 2011, the Connecticut DEEP surveyed municipalities to understand better how municipalities manage discarded mattresses.  The results are being used to develop cost effective methods for managing used mattresses and box springs in Connecticut.  The survey was sent via email to chief elected officials and municipal recycling contacts for all 169 cities and towns.
Below are the results of the survey. The compilation of this data is only as accurate as the responses provided by survey participants and therefore represents only a snapshot of municipal used mattress management. 
 
Used Mattress Management in CT - Final Report  (CT DEEP June 2011)
Survey Questions and Results  (CT DEEP June 2011)
 
 
 
Used mattresses are considered a solid waste and establishing a facility to accept and process them will require a DEEP approval.  A provision for allowing such activity has been established in Section 5(b)(7) of the DEEP General Permit for Certain Recycling Facilities.  Under this General Permit, mattresses can be processed for recycling following general and specific operating conditions set forth for "Single Item Recycling Facilities".  Facilities must apply for and receive registration approval prior to commencing operations.  This General Permit, application forms and fact sheet can be found on the Waste and Materials Management General Permits webpage.  Permitting questions can be directed to the solid waste permitting staff by calling 860-424-3366.
 
 
 
 
 
The History of Bed Bug Management – With Lessons from the Past, by Michael F. Potter, American Entomologist, Spring 2011
 
 
Putting Bulky Waste to Rest: Mattress Recycling Efforts in Connecticut (CT DEEP), Presented at the International Bedding and Law Officials Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas. March 2011.
 
St. Vincent de Paul – largest mattress recycler in US, leader in expanding economic development opportunities from waste stream diversion.
 
DR3 (Divert, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) - mattress recycling business in San Leandro, California.
 
 
 
Content Last Updated July 17, 2013
 
Disclaimer: The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) maintains the content on this web site to enhance public access to information and facilitate understanding of waste reduction, reuse and recycling. The DEEP is not recommending these resources over any others and recognizes these represent only a partial listing of resources on this subject.