Durable materials and increased lifespan notwithstanding, every mattress, no matter how sturdy, sees its last sleep. Eventually, an innerspring mattress weakens, the memory foam topper wears out, the cover grows thin, and every mattress eventually reaches the end of its days.
And when the time has come to buy a new mattress, you also need to figure out how to dispose of your old one (amid the myriad other decisions you’ll need to make about your new purchase).
Fortunately, the answer isn’t as complicated as you might fear. There are essentially three options: government collection, private collection, and recycling or mattress donation.
Most municipalities have specific procedures that must be followed when disposing of a used mattress, oftentimes including a certain manner of disposal (like putting the entire mattress in a specific type of bag) as well as a fee. You can check your local government’s website for the procedure in your area.
In a few states, including Connecticut, California, and Rhode Island, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws help alleviate the burden on the government workers (and reduce the number of consumers who shirk rules and simply dump their mattress on the street) by putting the responsibility on the mattress producer. With EPR laws, consumers pay a fee upfront when they buy their mattress to fund public collection and mattresses disposal, thus facilitating used mattress recycling.
But the best option by far, the one that’s good for your wallet, your city, and the environment, is to recycle your old mattress. Though people may not often think of a mattress as a recyclable item, in fact almost every component of a mattress can be recycled. Most municipal facilities won’t take your mattress, but there are an increasing number of private companies and non-profits that will pick up your mattress and recycle or repurpose it for free.
If you’re looking to recycle your mattress, the Mattress Recycling Council is a great resource to find a facility near you. Once you set up a time, they’ll pick up your mattress, bring it to their processing center, and break it down into its very useful component parts—polyurethane foam, cotton fiber, metal—to be reused for myriad other products.
An equally environmentally-friendly option, which could also help out someone in need, is mattress donation. Here at Reverie, we’ve found Salvation Army to be a wonderful resource for donating our used Sleep Systems, as well as several church-based charities in the area (Father Joe’s Village and Union Gospel Mission, specifically). To find a convenient resource near you, do a quick internet search or call up your local Salvation Army.
Not only will donating or recycling your mattress save you fees and hassle, it also makes a difference in the world.
And that difference is real: Currently, most mattresses and box springs end up in landfill or are dumped illegally, even though at least 85% of their mass could potentially be repurposed. What’s more, a mattress can take up as much as 40 cubic feet in a landfill, making their footprint significant. Fortunately, the efforts are working, and reprocessing practices in place today offset an estimated 45% of greenhouse gas emissions of mattresses from production to landfill.