Each day in the United States, approximately 300 old box springs and mattresses arrive at a single local recycling facility. When considering that thousands of such facilities exist, it’s easy to see how they can quickly become overwhelmed with mattresses and box springs people don’t want anymore.
People replace household items every day, often without thinking of where the old unwanted item ends up after they place it in the garbage or attempt to recycle it. It just so happens that mattresses are among the most difficult household items to recycle. They often contain toxic chemicals to guard against fire, are large and bulky, and have inner springs that can easily damage recycling machines.
With thousands of old mattresses and box springs currently sitting in landfills and the problem only growing worse, Americans need to consider what they can do to help rather than contribute to the problem of overburdened landfills.
Best Practices for Recycling and Old Mattresses and Box Springs
Although mattresses are difficult to recycle, the Mattress Recycling Council estimates that about 80 percent of them can be if broken down properly. After cleaning and processing at a recycling center, parts of old mattresses can become foam padding for carpet, textile fabrics, recycled plastic applications, and much more. Recycling center employees can also melt the box springs down and turn them into a variety of metal products.
Most recycling centers accept old mattresses for a small fee, which typically doesn’t exceed $20. Unfortunately, recycling centers cannot accept old mattresses, bedding, or other parts of the bed in poor condition. These are some of the items a recycling center can’t accept along with the most common reasons it would be unable to accept an old mattress or other bedding component:
- Air mattresses
- Any mattress containing bed bugs
- Camping beds
- Dirty, moldy, or wet mattresses
- Roll-away beds that collapse
- Sleeping bags
- Used mattress toppers
People also have the option of breaking down and attempting to recycle the parts of an old bed themselves. Here are the steps involved:
- Use a razor to remove the cord that runs along the mattress edges on the top and bottom.
- Pull the sides of the mattress cord off.
- Pull off the top layer of fabric on the mattress. Using a pliers to remove staples will help to avoid cuts to the hands.
- Put on a pair of disposable gloves to grab the cotton and foam layers sitting on top of the box spring.
- Use a wire cutter or bolt cutter to break the inner springs of the mattress into smaller pieces.
People who choose to break down their own mattress can sell the metal springs to a scrap metal yard. The foam and fabric can go to a recycling center or used for another purpose around the home. Breaking down a wood frame of a bed requires using a saw. Otherwise the process is much the same as breaking down a mattress. Calling a curbside recycling service to pick up the various parts of the old bed is another option.
Take Better Care of Mattresses for Greater Longevity
Consumers purchase new beds much more often than they used to thanks to aggressive advertising campaigns and higher expectations for comfort. For example, a common strategy among mattress retailers is to allow customers to try a mattress for as long as one year and then return it for a full refund if they’re not completely satisfied with it. Some people have chosen to game the system by frequently purchasing and returning mattresses, a fact that has driven return rates as high as 20 percent. Inevitably, some of these returned mattresses end up sitting for years in a landfill.
Rotating and flipping a new mattress every two weeks for the first six months of ownership can help to extend its lifespan. Once six months have passed, owners should plan to rotate and flip the mattress at least every three months from that point forward. Avoid jumping on a mattress or allowing it to get wet as these can both make it deteriorate faster. When the time comes to buy a new mattress, consumers should look for those made with fewer toxic chemicals and petroleum products. This is one of the most important actions to prevent the mattress from causing environmental harm when it too needs replacement.
If you have an old mattress that you would like to have ethically disposed of at a reasonable and fair price for all parties involve, contact EZ Junk Hauling today and ask about our mattress removal services.