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Getting Rid of an Old Mattress

Getting Rid of an Old Mattress

How do you get rid of your used mattress? We’ve all seen decaying old mattresses on the side of the road, or thrown down a ravine, or into a creek. Not good! Although landfills are a better choice, dumping fees are often imposed, and, from an environmental standpoint, this isn’t the optimal choice. About 50,000 used mattresses and box springs are carted off daily (yes, daily!) to U.S. landfills, where they can take more than a decade to decompose. It’s also not a good idea to pass along an old mattress to others, particularly children.

Hat’s off to the bedding industry and its trade association, the International Sleep Products Association(ISPA), which has worked diligently to find solutions to this problem for decades. Today, its Mattress Recycling Council works closely with local governments, waste management professionals, recyclers, and others to make sure that mattress recycling is accessible and easy to use. Currently, three states have implemented MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress Program – California, Connecticut and Rhode Island – and more than 3 million mattresses have been recycled, diverting more than 25,000 tons of material from landfills.

More than 80 percent of the metal, foam, and textiles that comprise your mattress can be broken down and recycled to gain a new life, providing parts for the automotive, furniture, construction, and other industries. During the three- or four-minute recycling process, mattresses and box springs are loaded onto a conveyor belt, where their soft materials are cut away and the polyurethane foam and cotton fiber are separated from the framework. Metal pieces are removed and the remaining fiber materials are shredded and baled.

While California, Connecticut and Rhode Island have free drop-off locations, collection events and recyclers throughout their states, there are other mattress recyclers or places that accept mattresses for recycling across the country. Visit ByeByeMattress.com to find locations near you.

If recycling isn’t available in your area, there are still responsible ways to dispose of a mattress.

  • When you have a new mattress set delivered, ask the retailer to pick up your old set.
  • Call your local municipality, sanitation department or trash collector. They usually have a way to arrange for picking up larger items.
  • If you use a junk removal or hauling service, ask for a disposal receipt before you pay them to confirm they handled your items responsibly.

You’ll enjoy a comfy, new mattress more knowing you’ve recycled your old mattress in a way that is helping, not hurting, the environment.

About the Contributor

Helen Sullivan is Communications Counsel for the CertiPUR-US® program.