Used mattresses destined for landfill disposal.
Mattress Recycling and Disposal
It is estimated that upwards of 40 million mattresses with box springs are disposed in the U.S. each year1, with each piece taking up to 40 cubic feet of landfill space.
King County's transfer stations and landfill received about 90,000 mattresses weighing more than 3000 tons for disposal in 2011.2 A California study (external) calculated that the collection and recycling of all of the 4.2 million mattresses and box springs estimated to be thrown out annually in California would create roughly 1,000 jobs, while greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by between 130,000 and 190,000 metric tons (carbon dioxide equivalent).
According to estimates from the mattress industry's International Sleep Products Association (PDF 108KB), landfills lose money when mattresses are landfilled because municipal solid waste compacts much more than mattresses.
In addition, Greater Vancouver Regional District (external, PDF), British Columbia, found that mattresses can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to long-haul vehicles and to transfer station and landfill equipment.
Alternatives to mattress disposal include recycling, charitable donation for reuse, and refurbishing for resale or donation. While recycling options are currently limited in the Pacific Northwest, there is great potential for recycling. Mattresses are made up of several recyclable materials, including polyurethane foam, cotton, wood and steel coils (see the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (external) for more on mattress components).
Several organizations in Washington State disassemble and recycle mattresses: Spring Back Mattress Recycling Northwest (external) works in King and Pierce Counties and Arlington Recycle Warehouse (external) works in Snohomish County.
(Note that Correctional Industries, of the Washington State Department of Corrections, no longer recycles mattresses as of August 1, 2014, R5 Systems, Inc. went out of business in early 2014, and A Plus Removal and Recycling closed in late 2015.)
There are three mattress recyclers in the Vancouver, B.C. area and one in Eugene, Ore. (See mattress resources for more information.) In addition, Parklane Mattresses provides mattress collection and recycling through St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, Ore., in the Portland-Vancouver, Wash. metropolitan area.
King County LinkUp mattress market development
To strengthen the mattress collection infrastructure and processing capacity in King County, LinkUp convened a Mattress Recycling Summit in Kent in December 2011 and again in September 2014. In addition, LinkUp partnered with local businesses to form the Take it Back Network of mattress collection and recycling locations. For more on the Summit and LinkUp's activities, visit the mattress recycling project.
In the News
LinkUp's eNewsLink newsletter regularly highlights current events in mattress recycling, including the Fall 2013 and Spring 2012 issues.
- First Mattress Stewardship Program: May 1, 2015 marked the beginning of the Mattress Recycling Council's program to collect and recycle mattresses in Connecticut. HB 6437 (external), requiring manufacturers to create a mattress stewardship program funded by a visible fee at the point of sale, passed both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly (the House on May 2 and the Senate on May 16) and was signed into law by the Governor on May 28, 2013 as Public Act 13-42 (external).
- Rhode Island S 261 (external) passed the Senate and House in June 2013 (external) and signed into law by the Governor on July 15 (external); similar legislation has been "held for further study" the last two years, but CT's passage of similar legislation and mattress industry support changed the bill’s prospects.
- California SB 254 (external) passed the Senate on May 29 and the Assembly on September 11 and was signed into law by the Governor on Sept. 27, 2013 (external). The California Chamber of Commerce, California Retail Association, Republic Services, Waste Management, Californians Against Waste, and the City and County of San Francisco testified in support of this bill in hearings. This mattress recycling law will be funded by a "recycling charge" at the point of sale, similar to Connecticut's and Rhode Island's laws. California Governor Brown included a signing message (external, PDF) directing CalRecycle to work with the bill's authors to clarify language and intent "through cleanup legislation next session."
- The U.S. Conference of Mayors, adopted a Resolution Supporting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Mattresses (external), which states that "the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports state and federal EPR legislation for mattresses, and will encourage its communities to use EPR as a policy tool to relieve local governments of significant costs of managing mattresses."
- In France (external), a manufacturer-run EPR program for the collection and recycling of furniture and mattresses began in May 2013 (external). Continental Simmons and IKEA France are among the companies participating in Eco-Mobilier (external) (French for "eco-furniture").
- IKEA (external, PDF) of the United Kingdom takes back mattresses, and other furniture, for recycling.
- Vancouver (external) and Halifax (external), Canada, have raised the issue of mandating mattress producer collection and recycling.
- In 2012, legislation was introduced but failed to pass in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and California, that would have required mattress manufacturers to create, finance, and implement plans and programs for the recovery and recycling of used mattresses. Visit the Northwest Product Stewardship Council (external) for details on mattress stewardship legislation.
Check back regularly for updated news and resources on mattress recycling in King County. For more information, contact us.