LymeLine.com is pleased to be publishing a series of articles written by Old Lyme’s Solid Waste & Recycling Committee that lay out best recycling practices. To date, the committee’s articles have covered Old Lyme’s curbside trash and recycling programs; the safe disposal of medications; and paint recycling. This article covers the recycling of mattresses and box springs.
The International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), which is the trade association for the mattress industry, estimates that 35 to 40 million new mattresses and box springs are sold in the United States every year, and at least 15 to 20 million are discarded.
Unfortunately, mattresses are really hard to throw out; there is just no easy way to dispose of them. They are difficult to land-fill because they can’t be easily compressed and crushed; they pose challenges for incinerators.
So, disposal of mattresses and box springs at the end of their useful life was difficult for towns to manage. Hartford estimated that mattress disposal cost that city about $400,000 in 2010. Consequently, they are often illegally dumped and found on vacant lots and roadsides. As a matter of fact, there was a mattress lawn ornament right here in Old Lyme on Rte. 156. It was only recently removed after gracing our roadside for several months. (Thanks, neighbor!)
Connecticut passed comprehensive mattress stewardship legislation in 2013 (the first state to do so.) Similar to paint, the law requires mattress manufacturers to establish programs to manage unwanted mattresses and box springs; and, like paint, a fee is assessed at the point of sale to fund the program. California and Rhode Island have since passed similar mattress stewardship laws.
The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) was formed by ISPA to operate recycling programs in the states that have such laws. Connecticut’s program launched in May, 2015. “Bye Bye Mattress” (really!) is the recycling program established by MRC. They provide haulers that pick up and transport mattresses and box springs from drop-off sites to recycling centers. Our local drop-off site is Old Lyme’s transfer station. There are currently mattress recycling facilities in East Hartford and Bridgeport; ours extends to East Hartford. Mattresses get recycled through the state’s recycling program regardless of when they were purchased. Note that most mattress retailers will remove your old mattress on delivery of new.
The industry estimates that nearly 90 percent of used mattress and box springs’ components can be recycled — the metal springs, foam, wood and fibers — and made into new useful products.
Before putting this topic to rest, it’s worthwhile to mention the issue of bed bugs. Infested mattresses require special handling. If you have concerns regarding bed bugs you can find information and guidance from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2714&q=482160&deepNav_GID=1645%20#BedBugs or the Connecticut Coalition Against Bed Bugs at http://www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2826&q=437580.
Our next few articles will cover the proper recycling of electronics, tires, and bulky items like appliances and furniture.