How to Recycle Your Old Mattress the Responsible Way

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There comes a time when everyone needs to get rid of a mattress.

Every day, the US discards over 50,000 mattresses. Too many of these are either illegally dumped, or end up in landfills. This has to stop, and fortunately, there is a better way.

Today, we will discuss how to recycle your old mattress in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.

You'll be surprised how easy it is to do the right thing and put those used mattress materials to good use.

How do I Know if I Need a New Mattress?

Before we talk about mattress recycling programs or other methods of mattress disposal, it's worth making absolutely sure that you do need to get rid of your old one.

There are a few signs that indicate it might be time for a new mattress:

  • You generally wake up feeling stiff or sore.
  • Your mattress is more than seven years old.
  • You can feel springs or lumpy areas in the mattress.
  • It's difficult to find a comfortable position on your mattress.

If you're experiencing any of these signs, it might be time to start shopping for a new mattress.

Our guide to the best eco-friendly mattresses can help you find a sustainable, non-toxic mattress that meets your comfort requirements and fits your budget.

However, before you get rid of your old one, let's talk about how to dispose of it responsibly.

Mattress dumped by roadside

Best Ways to Dispose of Old Mattresses

Mattress recycling is obviously a much better alternative to just letting it go into landfills. But actually, recycling is not always the best option. There are other alternatives which you should consider first.

Resell It or Give It Away

One option for getting rid of an old mattress is to try to resell it or give it away to somebody directly.

If your mattress is still in good condition, it could be used by somebody else. You can list it on sites like Craigslist or Freecycle.

Your mattress will need to be free of stains and infestations, and in a good structural state with no holes, tears, rips, or large indentations.

If it has only a slight sag, it may still be OK as there are ways to easily fix a sagging mattress.

Usually, the buyer will collect, which saves you the hassle of removing it yourself. You also either make a few bucks or help someone out.

If you choose to go this route, be sure to take some pictures of the mattress and include a description of its condition. Be honest about any wear and tear so that potential buyers are aware.

Do people really buy used mattresses?

Many people do buy used mattresses, as long as they're in good condition. Used mattresses can be a great way to save money, and they're often just as comfortable as new mattresses.

Just bear in mind that a buyer would want to inspect the mattress for any signs of wear and tear before they buy it.

Donate It

Another option is to donate your used mattress to a charity. In this way, you can help other people, and reduce waste at the same time.

Just like the selling route, however, this method is only suitable if your mattress is still usable.

The same criteria apply: make sure your mattress is clean, free of any kind of infestation, and in good structural condition. No charity will accept mattresses that they can't resell or reuse.

There are many charities that accept donations of used mattresses, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Be sure to contact the charity ahead of time to see if they accept mattress donations and what their policies are for accepting them.

Repurpose It

If you're keen on DIY (or want to try) you can break apart the mattress and reuse the materials yourself.

Mattresses contain a number of useful materials such as steel springs, wooden frames, fabric covering, polyurethane foam padding, memory foam, and latex foam.

In fact, the mattress recycling council states that around 80% of the materials in an average mattress can be recycled.

You may find uses for all of these materials yourself. If not, you can often donate or recycle the materials individually, which is handy if there are no suitable charities or mattress recycling companies in your area.

How to Recycle Your Mattress

If you can't sell, give away, or donate, your other mattress disposal option is to recycle it.

The materials inside your mattress can be valuable, and it's relatively easy for specialist recycling centers to break them apart and put these materials to other uses.

There are many mattress recyclers around the country that accept mattresses. Chances are, there's one near you.

How are mattresses recycled?

After an initial inspection, a mattress will be manually cut open, broken apart, and separated out into its constituent parts. The materials are generally used as follows:

  • A foam mattress can be extracted, shredded, and reused as carpet padding or for animal bedding.
  • Fabric covers and fibers are used in industrial oil filters or for other textile uses.
  • Metal springs and box springs can be recycled as scrap metal.
  • Wooden frames can be turned into woodchips, landscaping mulch, or used as fuel.

Mattress Recycling Programs

You can find more information about where to recycle your mattress from the following websites.

Are there any mattress recycling facilities near me?

It's easy enough to find out!

Visit Bye Bye Mattress to find your nearest mattress recycling or collection sites.

Some mattress companies offer a mattress removal service when you buy a new one. This is worth checking out if there are no mattress recycling facilities nearby.

However, make sure you confirm with them what they actually do with the mattresses they collect. Do they recycle them or just throw them away?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is mattress recycling so important?

There are two main reasons why it is important to dispose of your mattress properly.

  • To Keep Mattresses out of Landfill. Mattresses take up a lot of space and can release harmful chemicals into the environment.
  • To Stop Illegal Dumping which harms our communities and costs thousands of taxpayer dollars to clear up.

Worse still, many local authorities require you to wrap your mattress in a plastic mattress bag before they will pick it up! That means that not only the mattress itself but also all the plastic cover goes straight to landfill.

Needless to say, it is important to do whatever you can to stop that from happening.

Can mattresses be recycled if they have bed bugs?

If a mattress is infested with bed bugs it is not eligible for free drop off at a mattress recycling council facility.

However, bed bugs don't affect the usefulness of either the wooden frame or the metal springs within a mattress, so it is still possible for at least part of it to be recycled.

Can you recycle box springs?

Yes, box springs can be recycled in much the same way as a mattress. They are accepted by most recycling programs.

What is the Mattress Recycling Council?

It is a nonprofit organization that operates recycling programs in all states which have the appropriate legislation.

The MRC operates directly in California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island but also provides information about recycling facilities in other states.

The MRC was formed by mattress manufacturers and is funded by adding a small additional fee to every new mattress purchase. A small recycling fee is also charged.

The Final Word

.Mattress recycling is an important process to keep old mattresses out of landfills. By donating, selling, or recycling your mattress, you can help reduce the environmental impact caused by discarded mattresses.

There are many resources available to help you find a recycling center near you.

If you're unable to find a local recycler, some companies offer removal services when purchasing a mattress. But be sure to ask them what they do with the old mattress before making your purchase!

Check out these eco-friendly mattress companies for more information.

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Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.
Arabella Ruiz
Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.

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