According to the Mattress Recycling Council, approximately 15-20 million mattresses and box springs are disposed of annually in the US. To make matters worse, they are hard to compact and have become a major burden on community waste disposal management programs.
Fortunately nearly 90% of the mattresses and box springs components can be recycled. Steel, wood, fabric and foam are all recyclable, but there is a lot of labor involved in separating them out. They’ve got to be broken down one at a time, by hand and these commodities don’t go for much on the market. So even though there is a huge need for mattress recycling, there isn’t a huge desire to do the recycling. Several states have already instituted mattress recycling laws, with more considering them. Forward thinking manufacturers have come together to support recycling programs.
How do You Recycle Your Old Mattress?
The first and easiest place to check is the store where you purchased your new mattress. Most will pick up the old mattress and box springs when they deliver your new one, ask them about their recycling program.
If you aren’t buying a new one, you’ll have to do a little digging. States like California, Connecticut and Rhode Island have recycling laws and lots of easy to find resources. Their recycling locator can be found here: http://www.byebyemattress.com/
If you are located elsewhere, consider checking with your local waste management department, recycling centers, environmental and charity organizations. Here are a few other spots to start your search:
If all else fails, the incredibly resourceful will put in a little elbow grease and break it down themselves. If this sounds like you then you probably already have a slew of ideas on how to utilize the wood, foam, fabric and coils … they can be used for anything from crafting to sewing or household projects to yard art.
How to Extend the Life of your Mattress
And as for your new mattress, focus on hanging on to it for as long as you can. It will save you money in the long run and help save the environment as well. Here’s what you can to extend the life of your mattress:
- Support your mattress - Make sure you’ve got solid box springs, Bunkie board or platform for your mattress to rest on, if your mattress doesn’t have good support you won’t either.
- Remember to rotate it and/or flip it a couple times a month for the first half a year after purchase, and then every month or two after that.
- Buy a mattress cover/mattress protector that is water resistant or waterproof. Mattresses are hard to clean meaning that spills, oils, stains seep right in and stay in. Not only can they degrade fabrics and foams they can leave odors and create harbor mold and mildew. Your cover will be easy to clean, so be sure to clean it regularly.
- Get good quality bedding and clean it regularly.
- Vacuum the surface of your mattress periodically to keep it clean. Its most convenient to vacuum then flip or rotate all at the same time when you’ve got your bed stripped and your mattress protector in the wash.
- Don’t eat or drink in bed. Keep the food, crumbs and spills in the kitchen. This will make it will be easier to keep every layer of your bed clean.
- Get the pets their own beds. Most pet beds can be thrown in the washer to remove hair, oils, slobber, accidents and odors. Keep your bed clean by getting pets a spot of their own.
- Don’t let the kids jump on your mattress (and don’t do it yourself either!). Jumping on the bed can reduce the life of your mattress.
- As your mattress ages, consider adding a pillow top or memory foam mattress topper to increase comfort and/or support and get a few more years of life out of your mattress
Take care of your new mattress so it will continue to take care of you.