How Recyclable Are Mattresses? Are they 100% Recyclable?

How Recyclable Are Mattresses?
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How Recyclable Are Mattresses?

The recyclability of a mattress depends on what materials are used in manufacture. The more layers a mattress has, the more difficult it is to recycle because the layers need separating, requiring more mechanical processes and time.

For example, while a memory foam mattress is easy to recycle, a pocket spring mattress is problematic because it needs cutting up, the springs need pulling out, and the various padding layers need separating, so we have a pile of individual components.

This article will explore the recyclability of mattresses, including how they are recycled and what happens if they aren’t recycled.

Let’s jump in!

Can mattresses be recycled? 

All mattresses contain recyclable foam, metal springs, and white fibre padding components. No mattress is 100% recyclable, with most mattresses being around 80% recyclable in the correct facilities.

However, according to the National Bed Federation (NBF), only around 19% of mattresses are recycled. The issue is simple – mattresses are difficult to recycle, especially sprung mattresses because the springs are hard to separate from soft materials.

Pure foam mattresses have higher recycling rates of around 28%, but this is still nowhere near good enough for a circular economy.

How are mattresses recycled? 

The most challenging stage of mattress recycling is separating the springs. In some facilities, mattresses are fed directly into giant processing machines that crunch through metal, but most facilities have human intervention.

The traditional process sees workers separate the metal springs from the mattress before the mattress is fed into a shredder.

Newer machines can handle the whole process, mechanically cutting and sawing away the soft materials, leaving behind an amalgamation of metal and plastic.

With foam mattresses, the mattress is fed into a vast machine to be shredded to separate the various layers. The recycled soft products are collected and baled for use in other industries, while the metal is sold as scrap.

What happens if a mattress isn’t recycled?

Mattresses are not bad for the environment provided they are recycled. All mattresses contain materials that are not recyclable or biodegradable, like synthetic fibres and reflex foams processed with chemicals.

The most eco-friendly mattresses have natural fillings like wool, cotton, mohair, bamboo, and cashmere. Natural fillings are 100% recyclable and have a lower carbon footprint than synthetic materials like polyester and memory foam.

However, memory foam isn’t bad for the environment either – it isn’t treated with toxic chemicals and lasts longer than regular foam. Memory foam is made from highly recyclable polyurethane.

How to dispose of a mattress

When you buy a new mattress from Bedstar, we can remove your old mattress for £39 and take it to a dedicated recycling facility.

If you would instead do this yourself, search for your nearest mattress recycler and drop the mattress off after calling them to make sure it’s okay (also, make sure the mattress will fit in your vehicle before attempting it).

Alternatively, please take it to your local tip — some councils don’t accept mattresses, but others do, so it’s best to check before heading down.

If there is nothing physically wrong with your old mattress, then you could donate it to charity. The British Heart Foundation takes mattresses in good condition with fire labels, and most local shops offer a pickup service.

Of course, you could also give your old mattress away on Gumtree or Facebook Local. There are plenty of people who need a mattress but can’t afford one.

Penalties for fly-tipping

You should avoid dumping any rubbish illegally. The penalties can range from small fines to jail time. Below are the penalties you may face:

  • Fixed penalty notice of between £150 and £400 for small-scale fly-tipping. This is in line with the Unauthorised Deposit of Waste (Fixed Penalties) Regulations 2016. It’s a criminal offense. In Scotland, they may issue the same penalty for any fly-tipping incident under 33A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In Wales, local authorities can issue fixed penalties for fly-tipping, regarding the offense as a breach of 33 (1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  • Seizure of property. Authorities in England and Wales can seize vehicles they suspect fly-tippers have used to transport and tip waste illegally.
  • A fine of up to £50,000 or a prison sentence of 12 months if the conviction occurs in a Magistrate’s court.
  • An unlimited fine and a prison sentence of up to five months if the conviction occurs in a Crown court.
  • Payment of compensation and legal costs in addition to any fines received.

Authorities may also confiscate or freeze assets of fly-tipping offenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

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