Recycling law gives old mattresses a soft landing

The mattress: So nice to fall onto at the end of a long day, so hard to vacate in the morning, so unsightly when the neighbors move out and leave it on the sidewalk.

And, when they end up in landfills, they’re space-hogging fire hazards and a waste of recyclable material.

When the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act passed in 2013, CalRecycle set to work establishing a system for keeping mattresses out of landfills, preventing the illegal dumping of old mattresses, and promoting the recycling of mattress material.

The law officially went into effect on Dec. 30, 2015, and this week, after some final back and forth, CalRecycle approved the Mattress Recycling Council’s formal plan for a statewide mattress take-back program.

Here’s what you, the environmentalist and concerned citizen, need to know:

• Used mattresses are highly recyclable! Certain components, such as steel and polyurethane, also have positive market value. Mattress recycling also creates jobs.
• Besides being an eyesore, mattresses dumped illegally are a burden to local jurisdictions and other public agencies, which spend a lot of money (i.e, your tax dollars) to pick them up and dispose of them.
• Mattresses that end up in landfills are a fire hazard, as they can easily absorb surrounding flammable materials into what are essentially air pockets.

Here’s what you, the mattress buyer and person wondering what to do with your old one, need to know:

• Businesses that sell mattresses must give consumers the option of having a used mattress picked up at no additional cost when a new one is delivered.
• A recycling fee of $11 will be added to the price of the mattress and/or box spring (and should be clearly visible on the purchase receipt) to cover the cost of the take-back program. (A recycling fee is not new or unusual: When you buy new tires, electronics, or carpet, you also pay such a fee to cover the costs of collecting and managing those products at the end of their useful life.)
• If you’re not ready to part with your old mattress right when your new one is delivered, check out the Mattress Recycling Council’s mattress recycling locator to find a drop-off place near you. The service is free for area residents.

For more information, see CalRecycle’s Mattress Product Management webpage.

Sleep well on your new mattress tonight, knowing that you did not just kick your old mattress to the curb, but rather, you gave it a chance to become something new.

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— Heather Jones
Posted on Jan 28, 2016

Summary: When the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act passed in 2013, CalRecycle set to work establishing a system for keeping mattresses out of landfills, preventing the illegal dumping of old mattresses, and promoting the recycling of mattress material. The law officially went into effect on Dec. 30, 2015, and this week, after some final back and forth, CalRecycle approved the Mattress Recycling Council’s formal plan for a statewide mattress take-back program.