175,000 Mattresses a Year Thrown on The Curb? Manufacturers Will Pick Them Up

Imagine looking into a landfill (or incinerator) – what would you see? Tons and tons of still-useful stuff that could be recycled into new products (creating lots of jobs too). What a waste – and a huge expense – to throw so much away.

Connecticut is taking action on one problem product – mattresses. The state just passed the first producer responsibility law for mattresses in the US, which now puts the onus of responsibility on manufacturers.

Manufacturers will have to both finance and manage the collection and recycling of old mattresses. 

Mattress

Under the law, manufacturers will set up an organization that  collects mattresses and recycles them at no cost to municipalities. Each manufacturer will pay into the program to fund the organization. That fee, of course, will pass to customers when they buy new mattresses at retail stores.

The law was written with input from the industry’s trade association and could become a model for other states. The nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute worked with all the stakeholders to get support for the bill.

About 175,000 mattresses are thrown away in Connecticut each year and are mostly sent to other states to be dumped in landfills or incinerated. By shifting the burden to manufacturers, local  governments will save about $1.3 million and the economy will benefit from new recycling opportunities for businesses.

About 95% of the materials in a mattress are recyclable, such as steel, cotton and foam.

"Communities statewide stand to save more than $1.2 million from present disposal costs borne by taxpayers. A cooperative and shared cost for end-of-life management of mattresses lightens the taxpayer burden and also transforms mattresses into feedstock for Connecticut’s two mattress recycling facilities," notes Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, assistant director of Hartford’s Department of Public Works.

The law passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

The Product Stewardship Institute is working on this at a national level. Last year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed state and federal producer responsibility legislation for mattresses as an effective way to cut the costs of mattress disposal for municipalities, create local recycling jobs and encourage other recycling opportunities that this untapped waste stream offers.

Similar legislation is moving forward in California.

Read about the status of producer responsibility laws in the US:

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