Mattresses are crucial parts of a comfortable sleeping experience, but these bedroom essentials also have a finite lifespan. Once the mattress shows signs of extensive damage such as sagging, it might be best to get a new one to replace the trusty but old mattress. Once you make up your mind about getting a new mattress, you will then be faced with how to dispose of the old one. Deciding on what to do with the old mattress may be a dilemma that you might not even think about unless you are already faced with this task. Recycling presents a better solution compared to simply throwing away an old mattress, especially since approximately 80% of the materials used in a mattress can successfully be recycled so they can still serve other purposes as part of newly manufactured products.
The Importance of Recycling a Mattress
These are the benefits of recycling a mattress.
Slow Down Landfill Overflow
The bulky structure of mattresses will take up a lot of space in a landfill. When more mattresses are disposed of in landfills, these areas will more quickly be filled up to overflowing, in which case there will be a need to make new landfills to accommodate the trash that is produced by people on a regular basis. Avoiding the need to make landfills can result in the land being preserved as animals’ natural habitats so these living creatures will not be forced out of their homes and familiar environment. The land that will not be used as a landfill may, in the future, also be used for other purposes that can be more beneficial compared to housing mountains of trash.
Mattress Components Repurposed
Most of the components of a mattress are usually non-biodegradable. This means that if the mattress is thrown away and placed in a landfill, the mattress can take up valuable space for an unknown length of time without the materials degrading and taking up less space. When the mattress parts are individually recycled, they can be turned into new products that will have their own purposes, instead of being left to stay in landfills and just taking up valuable space for decades or even centuries. Natural fibers can be thoroughly cleaned before being used as a sofa cushion filling, while the steel components may be melted and then used as a material in a new product.
Prevention of Future Environmental Problems
Some mattresses are manufactured with chemicals that help in ensuring the product’s strength, appearance, or overall safety. When the mattress is exposed to the elements for a long time, such as when it is disposed of and left in a landfill, the chemicals in the components may eventually leak and be absorbed by the ground. These chemicals may spread to the surrounding soil and pose health hazards in the long run for animals or humans who may occupy the said area. Recycling mattresses and keeping them away from landfills will help reduce the risk of more chemicals seeping through to the soil so that the risks to the environment, animals, and humans can be significantly reduced.
What Mattress Materials are Recyclable?
The process of recycling involves removing the top and bottom parts of the mattress and then taking apart the components inside. These are the materials that can be recycled:
Steel, which is used to make the spring coils found in innerspring and hybrid mattresses, is one of the materials that is most recycled in the world. It is also one of the easiest materials to recycle, given the number of steel recycling facilities across the US. The springs are removed from the mattress and then formed into compact structures before they are brought to scrapyards, where they will be prepared to be sold to foundries and steel mills. The metal will be melted and turned into construction materials or components that will become parts of appliances and other new products.
Wood is often used for the mattress’ base platform or in the box spring. After being taken out of the mattress, the wood is often shredded and turned into chips that can be used for landscaping purposes (as lawn mulch) or as an alternative fuel source.
Cotton and other natural fibers that are found in mattresses are processed to create other fabric, such as yarn which will undergo cleaning and re-spinning before being used in new products. The cotton can also be shredded so it can be cleaned and then used as filling for a new mattress or sofa cushions.
Polyurethane foam, which is used in some foam mattresses, can be processed to produce a denser material that is used for the seats found in exercise equipment, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles. The foam can also be shredded and then compressed before being bonded together to form the padding in carpets.
How to Have a Mattress Recycled
These are the available options when you want to recycle a mattress.
There are a number of recycling facilities nationwide that can help you when you want to properly dispose of your old mattress without it ending up in a landfill. You can check if there is one in your local area or if you need to go a bit further for this service. It is also important to verify if the facility you got in touch with accepts mattresses that are dropped off by individuals because some of these facilities only cater to manufacturers or retailers that drop off used and/or old mattresses. If the recycling facility does welcome mattresses that are dropped by individuals, you can also ask if they offer a pick-up service (which may involve a fee) so you will not need to deal with the task of carrying the bulky mattress to where the facility is located.
Local Recycling Program
Check if your local recycling program includes mattresses for recycling, so you can drop off the used mattress in the designated area without the need to travel far to get the mattress recycled. Some cities even have regular mattress recycling days that you can take note of so you can schedule the disposal of your used mattress to coincide with these days to make the task much more convenient to do.
Retailer Pick Up
If you have decided to purchase a new mattress and are planning to have it shipped to your place, ask the company you are buying the mattress from if they will agree to pick up your old mattress at the same time. Some recycling facilities only accept mattresses that come from retailers or manufacturers, so it will be a great idea for the company selling you the new mattress to act as sort of a middleman for the mattress recycling process. This way, you can be sure that your mattress will be recycled without having to go to the trouble of hauling the mattress to a recycling facility yourself.
With the right tools and time, you may be able to break apart an old mattress to get to the recyclable materials inside. This will especially be beneficial if the recycling facility in your local area does not accept a whole mattress from an individual party but will instead welcome the recyclable parts found in the filling and springs. The springs can also be brought to a local scrapyard where you can get some cash in exchange for the sturdy steel springs found in innerspring or hybrid mattresses.
A mattress that has given years of service to offer you continuous comfort and support deserves a proper disposal send-off. While it may be easier to just throw it away, letting it stay in a landfill can have lasting negative effects on the environment – which is the reason why it is much better to recycle the mattress instead. Having the mattress recycled will ensure that the parts can be used again for other products while reducing the risks brought about by improper mattress disposal.