The Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress Program has announced that its recyclers collected over 955,000 mattress and box spring units for recycling in 2016, the Program’s first year of operations. These and other important accomplishments are summarized in the Program’s inaugural annual report, which CalRecycle recently approved.
For example, the report states that the Program’s recyclers diverted approximately 29 million pounds of steel, foam, fiber and wood from disposal in landfills to being used to make new useful products. In addition to recycling, the Program established an Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative which resulted in over 23,000 illegally dumped units being removed from alleys, sidewalks and other public spaces and rights-of-way throughout California.
“We established drop-off locations and events in nearly every county during our first year of operations. We remain focused on expanding the Program’s accessibility and convenience,” said MRC’s Managing Director Mike O’Donnell. “We are working hard to involve more mattress retailers in the collection network. Meanwhile, we are exploring how to make the Program more efficient and increase our recycling targets by researching new end markets for the recycled materials.”
The Bye Bye Mattress Program is funded by a recycling fee that is collected when mattresses and box springs are sold in California. The fee is used to establish free drop-off locations and collection events throughout the state, transport units collected from these sites and other sources to companies that dismantle the discarded products and recycle their materials. Consumers may access the drop-off locations and collection events. The Program also recycles mattresses collected by landfills, as well as retailers, hotels, universities and other sources that discard mattresses in large volumes.
Once collected units arrive at a mattress recycling facility, they are dismantled and the recycled components are sold to companies that will use them to make entirely new products. For example, cotton and other fibers can be transformed into insulation or industrial equipment filters. Foam is shredded and mixed with other materials to make carpet padding. The inner springs are extracted and recycled as metal scrap, which is melted and used to make new appliances, building materials and other steel products. Finally, the wooden box spring frame can be chipped and is typically used as landscape mulch and biomass fuel.
In 2016, the Program contracted with six recyclers operating in California, which ranged from a large highly-mechanized operation to a number of manual recyclers operated by local non-profit organizations and smaller enterprises. Some of these recyclers use recycling opportunities as a life skills and job training program for unskilled workers. Groups like the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Institutes of Health estimate that for every 10,000 pounds of material recycled, dozens of jobs are created.
See the 2016 Annual Report for a full account of the Program’s first year. To find a drop-off location, collection event or mattress recycler in California visit www.ByeByeMattress.com.