Analysis and Commentary

Mattresses join the circular economy

Analysis and Commentary

By Peter Roberts

We all know how hard it once was to dispose of an old mattress.

Massive and worn maybe, mattresses contain a huge amount of disparate materials from fabrics to foams and steel springs.

Who would take them, and each year more than a million are sent to landfill while others are dumped in back streets and alleyways.

Now bedding and mattresses manufacturers are the latest to join the trend towards a circular economy, establishing the Australian Bedding Stewardship Council and its online entity, Recycle My Mattress.

Earlier this week @AuManufacturing reported on research performed by the Battery Stewardship Council, but it turns out there are eight regulated and one voluntary accredited product stewardship scheme in Australia.

Plus there are 18 unaccredited schemes and 13 in development.

The mattress council is typical, starting out eight years ago when it stopped seven beds from going to landfill in its first week.

The mattresses are carefully disassembled by hand, giving employment to vulnerable workers such as newly arrived refugees, and recovering valuable materials in the process.

Foams are recycled as carpet underlay and wire goes to the blast furnace in Newcastle, though some components such as the quilted top remain a bit of a problem.

That should be solved in the near future, bringing a 91 per cent recyclable rate.

With 1.6 million beds sold every year in Australia, that’s a lot of material saved from landfill.

Paying for all this is a levy at point of purchase – the cost varies but for elaborate hotel beds it adds up to $32 per mattress.

That seems a small price to pay for ridding us of the scourge of dumped mattresses, and boosting our use and reuse of perfectly good materials.

More information on the Recycle My Mattress website.

Picture: Australian Bedding Stewardship Council

Subscribe to our free @AuManufacturing newsletter here.

Share this Story
Analysis and Commentary

Stay Informed

Go to Top