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 stewardship legislation. Public Act 13-42
requires mattress manufacturers to establish a program to manage unwanted mattresses generated in Connecticut. The law assesses 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. This fee was initiated on May 1, 2015. The government does not administer this program or control the funds collected. The mattress manufacturers, now known as the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), submitted the Connecticut Mattress Stewardship Plan to the DEEP Commissioner on December 31, 2014. In order to provide the mattress industry with the information necessary to draft the best plan possible, DEEP convened a stakeholder working group
in which municipalities, recyclers, mattress manufacturers, environmental groups, entrepreneurs and other interested parties participated.
Municipalities, retailers, universities and colleges, hotels, healthcare facilities and other public or private entities that use large volumes of mattresses can benefit from this program. This program is voluntary. Those that choose to participate can recycle their mattresses for free. The Mattress Stewardship Program began on May 1, 2015.
The Mattress Recycling Council
is a non-profit organization created to develop and implement Connecticut’s statewide mattress stewardship program. To participate, contact the Mattress Recycling Council directly at (855) 229-1691 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The MRC has developed a fact sheet for municipalities
and created a locator tool, www.byebyemattress.com
, where residents can find a drop off location for their used mattresses. Please note that since this program is voluntary on behalf of municipalities, some towns may not be participating. If you do not get results when using the locator tool, please contact your local recycling coordinator
to find out where to bring your used mattress for recycling or disposal.
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.
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.
- 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.
It typically has 9 pounds of cotton and 25 pounds of steel. It's composition is roughly:
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.
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).
There are mattress recycling options available for Connecticut municipalities, businesses and institutions!
Park City Green *
- A Mattress Recycling Company
459 Iranistan Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604
P.O. Box 329 Willimantic, CT 06226
* Recyclers participating in CT’s Mattress Stewardship Program.
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.
St. Vincent de Paul
– largest mattress recycler in US, leader in expanding economic development opportunities from waste stream diversion.
(Divert, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) - mattress recycling business in San Leandro, California.
Content Last Updated February 2020
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.