The average mattress weighs almost 60 pounds and takes up 40 cubic feet of space. Yet nearly 8,000 mattresses are disposed of in American landfills every day. Growing environmental concerns have led many organizations and communities to come together to keep mattresses out of landfills. A three-pronged approach that includes recycling, donating, and repurposing gives consumers options and prevents mattresses from negatively impacting the environment.
What surprises most people is that mattresses are highly recyclable. They are made of materials that, once removed, can be used to make any number of items. The parts of the mattress that can be recycled include:
Steel: Innerspring mattresses can contain as much as 25 pounds of recyclable steel. Once removed, the steel can be sold to a recycling facility that will melt it down to make new products like roofing and construction materials.
Wood: A wood chipper makes recycling any wood from a mattress or box spring simple. When broken down, the wood can be used for ground cover or mulch. Some wood can be pulped to make paper.
Foam: There’s a big demand for the high-density foam found in many mattresses. Once removed and shredded, it can be used to make carpet padding, padding for car seats, and gym equipment.
Cloth and Fiber: Mattress covers are made from natural and synthetic fibers that can be cleaned, shredded, and used to make threads for new textiles or melted (in the case of synthetic fibers) to make shower curtains and similar items.
While recycling is the preferred way to dispose of a mattress, at this time, it can be difficult to find a facility or company that will do so. Telluride offers mattress recycling for a small $20 fee. For those further afield, check on websites like Earth911 to find the nearest mattress recycling facility.
Donating a mattress that’s still in good condition can help others and prevent unnecessary waste. A donated bed should be free from bugs, stains, and tears.
Well-known national charities like The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity International, Goodwill, and Furniture Bank Association of America often take mattress donations. However, due to bug infestations in certain parts of the country, some locations may not accept mattress donations. A quick phone call before loading a mattress can save time and money.
For those who don’t live near a national charity, don’t forget to check local second-hand stores, homeless shelters, and women’s/family shelters that might accept donated mattresses.
Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity to keep a mattress out of the landfill. Mattress springs can often be used for creative art projects around the home such as a room divider that doubles as a photo display piece. The springs can be taken apart to make a base for a holiday wreath and other small decor projects.
Foam mattresses can also be used to make and fill bean bags, chair cushions, and pillows or stuffed animal filler. Mattress cover fabric is usually tough and durable enough to be used for rugs in less formal spaces around the house such as the garage, shed, or utility room.
When you are ready to purchase your next mattress, you can look for a more eco-friendly option. There are mattress covers made of organic materials. Plus, natural latex mattresses are made from a sustainable resource, the sap of the rubber tree. This material slowly biodegrades over time, so purchasing a latex mattress may be a way to avoid the landfill in the future.
For more information please contact:
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org