Mattress Guides

Recycling Your Old Mattress

Help yourself and the Earth by recycling your mattress

By Alex Reale

There will come a time when your old mattress has to go for one reason or another, whether you’re trying to make room for a new mattress or you simply don’t need it anymore. While some people try their best to prolong the use of an old mattress (sometimes by putting it in a spare guest room), eventually, you will need to get rid of it. 

Rather than trying to coordinate with your local trash pick-up to have it collected, there is an alternative (and possibly more efficient) way to remove your mattress from your home while ensuring it doesn’t end up in a landfill. That option is recycling.

Why Recycle a Mattress?

It’s no secret that landfills are currently packed with all kinds of trash and refuse, and they are growing exponentially each year. And believe it or not, mattresses take up a significant amount of space in these landfills. In fact, more than 20 million mattresses are thrown away each year, and they each take up more than 40 cubic feet of space. 

Mattresses are typically made of non-biodegradable materials, meaning they can take decades (or longer) to fully deteriorate. Mattress materials also sometimes consist of harmful chemicals that can seep out and sink into the earth, where they can contaminate the soil or groundwater. Landfills are already leading to significant harm to the world, and mattresses are only contributing to the problem.

Rather than exacerbate the issues of mattress disposal, thereby helping the Earth and your conscience. Recycling a mattress can reduce your overall carbon footprint and allow landfills to exist much longer.

One more benefit of recycling your old mattress is the fact that it can potentially create hundreds to thousands of new jobs. The recycling industry is growing rapidly, and as more and more mattresses are being collected by recyclers, more people will be needed to manage the process. You can help stimulate the economy by choosing to recycle your mattress.

Are You Allowed to Throw a Mattress Away?

While you can usually call your township or 1-800-GOT-JUNK to help throw your mattress away, it’s nowhere near as sustainable or as simple as recycling. If you’re desperate to get rid of an old mattress once and for all, and you want to make sure you’re taking the responsible steps toward protecting the Earth, it’s a good idea to start looking at recycling as your preferred method of old mattress disposal.

How Do You Recycle a Mattress?

Recycling a mattress may sound complicated, but thankfully, there are programs out there to make the process easy for most mattress owners. One such program is Bye Bye Mattress.

Bye Bye Mattress is an eco-friendly initiative by the Mattress Recycling Council, a nonprofit organization created by the International Sleep Products Association that works to implement statewide mattress recycling programs and laws.

With Bye Bye Mattress’s recycler finder, you can select your state, and then receive recommendations of local mattress recycling facilities, along with their phone numbers and addresses. This allows you to get in touch with the local mattress recycling experts to coordinate pickup and proper disposal of your mattress.

Although mattress recyclers like Bye Bye Mattress are only available in certain states (California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut), that doesn’t mean your recycling options are limited. Contact your local recycling center and see if they are able to accept your old mattress.

Alternative Mattress Recycling Options

There are other alternative and non-traditional ways to recycle your mattress as well.

If you are handy and have a set of tools available, you can actually break down and recycle your old mattress yourself. You can use components of the mattress for art projects, home repair, gardening decor, and much more. Before attempting to recycle the mattress on your own, make sure you are taking proper precautions so as not to injure yourself. 

If you are purchasing a replacement mattress, check to see if the retailer offers a recycling program. Some mattress manufacturers will include recycling as part of their delivery process so that you don’t need to worry about getting rid of your old mattress.

You can also contact your local charity or non-profit, such as Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity, and ask them about donating your used mattress. There are a few organizations that accept old mattress drop-offs so that they can be cleaned and reused for others.  

It’s important to know that before you donate your old bed, make sure it’s in the proper condition to be donated. Do not donate it if it has any infestations, major structural problems, or significant staining. At this point, it may be better to contact a recycling center and to notify them of such issues so that they can take the proper steps toward disposing of your mattress for you.

What Happens to Your Recycled Mattress?

What exactly happens to your used mattress when it goes through the recycling process? The mattress is broken down into its bare components, which are then used for new products.

First, the mattress is cut open, and a team of specialists separate all the layers. Interior materials are categorized and organized by their types, such as springs, foam, etc. 

Next, certain soft commodities, such as foam or fiber, are compressed in order to make them more easily recyclable and transportable. At the same time, metal and box springs are extracted and sold to places such as steel mills and foundries. Overall, approximately 80 percent of an old mattress can be recycled and repurposed into consumer and industrial products.

The metal springs and coils found in old innerspring mattresses and box springs can be melted down and then made into new items. For memory foam mattresses, the foam can be shredded and reused in such items as moving pads, carpet padding, and even fuel. Wood can be chipped and used for mulch or for additional fuel sources. Some places can reuse the bed fibers, such as cotton, for filters or insulation.

Conclusion

Recycling your mattress doesn’t just help you make space in your home and get rid of old furniture. It’s also a fantastic way to protect the Earth. Before you call your township to have the trashmen come haul your mattress away, see if there’s a way to recycle it instead. When it comes to sustainability, recycling is the way to go.