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How Do You Dispose of a Mattress?

How Do You Dispose of a Mattress

The mattress on your bed may be your favorite resting place. But there comes a time when you need to say “Adieu” to it, no matter how durable it may be or how comfortable it kept you when you slept.

An old mattress does more than make you feel uncomfortable quickly. They get dirty faster, and that’s dangerous for your health. 

How to Dispose of a Mattress

If you were wondering, you can’t just throw your mattress in a dumpster and hope the city will take it to the nearest landfill. There are some reasons for that. First, cities can only build a landfill to a specific size. The second is that cities can make only so many landfills in a particular area, and regular garbage takes priority when dumping refuse.

The third is that most mattresses are made from non-organic materials. That means that it can take them several decades to decompose. Given that the average mattress will take up at least 20 cubic feet (with more oversized mattresses taking up to 60 cubic feet), it’s not very practical for municipalities to dump mattresses in landfills.

The fourth is that municipalities use expensive and sensitive equipment to dump garbage. Old mattresses have larger metal frames that can easily damage that equipment. The last and most important reason is that mattresses tend to emit dangerous chemicals that can leak into the ground and poison the food and water we eat.

Perhaps that’s why municipalities charge more than $50 to dispose of old mattresses.

Another Option – Recycling

Many municipalities are encouraging people to recycle old mattresses. Most communities have some mattress recycling programs. Often, all you have to do is drop your mattress off at a specific location. Someone else will come to pick it up for you. Some programs will pay you to recycle your old mattress.

People throw out millions of old mattresses every year, and that’s just in America. The good news is that it’s possible to reuse about three-quarters of any mattress. Even better, recycling old mattresses is good for the environment. 

What is involved in Mattress Recycling

Mattresses are complex, so it shouldn’t be astounding that many steps are involved when recycling old mattresses. 

  • Put the entire mattress on a conveyor belt.
  • Saws (designed to cut through old mattresses) remove the top and bottom of the mattress. These parts contain softer components that are easier to repurpose. 
  • Polyurethane fabric and cotton fiber can be recycled into pillows, bed sheets, clothes, and various pieces of apparel. 
  • Workers attach large magnets to the belt. These strip the mattress of its metal components. 
  • The fibers and materials that are attached to the mattress box are removed from the box with special cutters. These are then shredded and separated. 

It may sound lengthy, but a worker can strip a mattress apart in four minutes max. 

How Mattress Components are Recycled

The Ticking Can Become Part of Your Next Rug

The quilt panel is the top cover of the mattress (the surface that your body rests on when you sleep or rest). It’s referred to as ‘the ticking’ in the mattress world. Most tickings are made from different combinations of fabrics, including cotton, rayon, and polyester. These are shredded and repurposed into carpets and rugs.

Your Old Mattress May Find its Way into New Carpeting 

Believe it or not, the second layer of your mattress could become part of your house if you renovate it and have new carpeting laid down. It’s referred to as memory foam. Memory foam tends to be made from polyurethane – especially if it’s a unique mattress. Most mattress recycling plants repurpose it into padding that supports carpets.

Polyurethane Foam 

Polyurethane foam is the third layer of a mattress. That part of the mattress gives your back and body the most support when you lie down or sleep on it. Recycling plants commonly use it in new carpet padding. This layer sometimes consists of latex foam. It can be natural, artificial, or a combination of both. 

Some Parts of an Old Mattress Need to be chunked

That’s generally true of the fourth layer of a mattress. It’s made from foam. The coating is thick and dense because it’s made from a combination of wool, polyester, coconut fibers, and horsehair. Note that the foam can be made from many other materials as well!

It’s hard to separate the materials that make up the foam layer, so recycling plants find that it often can’t be repurposed into anything useful! 

It’s the Law

Some states have passed laws requiring residents to recycle old mattresses. One such state is Connecticut. It passed a law making it illegal for residents not to recycle old mattresses in 2013. The state legislature obliged mattress manufacturers to offer consumers recycling options and access to recycling programs that year. Mattress manufacturers have charged customers an upfront recycling fee since then.

Programs That Help With Mattress Recycling

One such program is the Bye Bye Mattress program. The organization helps people safely recycle their old and unwanted mattresses. It operates in California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Mattress Recycling Council established the program. 

The Mattress Recycling Program has other tasks as well. These include providing mattress manufacturers with resources and information regarding the benefits of recycling mattresses, making mattresses easier to recycle, and helping mattress manufacturers and retailers register for recycling programs. The MRC also works with governments and municipalities to guide them in safeguarding the environment.

Other Disposal Methods

There are other recycling solutions. You may have a mattress that is older but still usable. In that case, you can donate it. Just make sure you thoroughly clean it. You do that by dousing your old mattress with baking soda or baking powder and vacuuming it off. Then, either sweep or vacuum the remaining dirt and other particles off. 

The last step to cleaning your old mattress is to run a steamer over it until it’s soaking wet. Then let it dry in the air completely. 

You can donate your old mattress to Goodwill. Many lower-income families would gladly use an older, clean mattress that is clean and still in good condition. Other great organizations to donate your mattress to include:

  • The Salvation Army – you don’t have to pay to dispose of your old mattress
  • Habitat for Humanity – they won’t charge you to pick up your old mattress 
  • Mattress Disposal Plus – they will find a good use for your old mattress. The organization will do so for free. They won’t throw your old mattress in a landfill if they have to dispose of it. Instead, they’ll dispose of it in a way that won’t harm the natural environment. 
  • Your local furniture store – many retailers repurpose older mattresses into new furniture. Some of these outlets may even pay you for your unwanted old mattress.
  • A local non-profit – many less fortunate people and residents of homeless shelters could use a good older mattress.

Frequently asked questions 

Do mattresses go to a landfill?

Generally speaking, your old mattress will end up in a landfill if you toss it in your trash.

What do you do with a filthy mattress?

You’ll need to give it to a waste disposal company. They can get rid of it safely.

Is it legal to put old mattresses in your neighborhood dumpster?

No, because it contains organic material that can order deadly pathogens.

You Have Options

Don’t fret. As you have seen, your older mattress can go places since there are many recycling programs that you can take it to. You can even give it to an organization that will use it for less fortunate people. So, next time you have an old mattress you need to get rid of, don’t even think of putting it in the dumpster since it’s unsafe or legal!