How Old Mattresses Can Be Recycled
What to do if your mattress company does not take your old mattress with them when you buy a new one
- July 27, 2009
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Dear EarthTalk: How can I recycle my old mattress if the place I buy a new one from doesn’t take it? What do mattress companies do with old mattresses when they do take them? Do they recycle any of the material?
— J. Belli, Bridgeport, CT
A typical mattress is a 23 cubic foot assembly of steel, wood, cotton and polyurethane foam. Given this wide range of materials, mattresses have typically been difficult to recycle—and still most municipal recycling facilities won’t offer to do it for you. But along with increasing public concerns about the environment—and a greater desire to recycle everything we can—has come a handful of private companies and nonprofit groups that want to make sure your old bed doesn’t end up in a landfill.
The Lane County, Oregon chapter of the charity St. Vincent de Paul Society, for example, has spearheaded one of the nation’s most successful mattress recycling initiatives via its DR3 (“Divert, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”) program. “Keeping [mattresses] out of landfills is a matter of efficiently recycling them so their core materials can be reincarnated into any number of new products,” reports the group, which opened a large mattress recycling center in Oakland, California in 2001. (Why hundreds of miles away in Oakland? To “go where the mattresses are,” says Chance Fitzpatrick of the group.) The facility has been processing upwards of 300 mattresses and box springs per week ever since.
During the recycling process, each mattress or box spring is pushed onto a conveyor belt, where specially designed saws cut away soft materials on the top and bottom, separating the polyurethane foam and cotton fiber from the framework. The metal pieces are magnetically removed, and the remaining fiber materials are then shredded and baled. The whole process takes one worker just three to four minutes per mattress.
On a slow day, the DR3 facility recycles some 1,500 pounds of polyurethane foam, which totals a half million or more pounds over the course of a year. “A well-oiled recycling factory can reuse 90 percent of the mattress,” reports Josh Peterson of Discovery’s Planet Green website. “The cotton and cloth get turned into clothes. The springs and the foam get recycled, and the wood gets turned into chips.”
While the DR3 facility only takes mattresses from a small group of waste haulers and individuals around the San Francisco Bay Area, other mattress recyclers are popping up around the U.S. and beyond. Some examples include Nine Lives Mattress Recycling in Pamplico, South Carolina; Conigliaro Industries in Framingham, Massachusetts; MattCanada in Montreal, Québec; and Dreamsafe in Moorabbin, Australia. To find a mattress recycler near you, consult the free online database at Earth911.org.
Those who aren’t near a recycling facility might consider giving their old mattress away. But many health departments prohibit donating mattresses to charities like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. So what’s an upgraded sleeper with a perfectly good old mattress to do? The web-based Freecycle Network allows people to post stuff to give away to anyone willing to come pick it up; likewise, chances are your local version of Craigslist also has a “free” section where you can post that it as available.
How to Sell a Used Mattress
Selling a used mattress is a multi-step process that includes determining a reasonable selling price, researching applicable state laws, pinpointing a sales venue, and providing sufficient product information for prospective buyers.
This guide for selling used mattresses includes step-by-step instructions to follow in order to facilitate a successful transaction – but be warned: most used mattress sellers will only recuperate a small percentage of the original product price.
Step 1: Determine a Fair Price
Generally speaking, a used mattress will command a resale price that is roughly equivalent to 20% to 30% of the original product price. If a mattress originally costs $1,000, then expect to resell it for $200 to $300; if the original cost is $2,000, then the resale price will probably fall between $400 and $600.
In addition to original price, here are a few more factors that may affect the resale price of a used mattress:
Years of use:The average mattress will need to be replaced after six to seven years of consistent nightly use. A mattress that has been used for three years or less will command a higher price than one that has been used for longer.
Topper or protector use:Mattress toppers and protectors can be used to preserve the comfort layer of a mattress over time. A mattress that has primarily been used with a topper and/or protector will typically be in much better shape than one that has not been used with these accessories.
Consistent or sporadic use:A used mattress that has been used on a nightly basis will typically command a lower price-point than one that has primarily been used as a guest bed on an inconsistent basis.
Current mattress condition:Assuming the mattress was brand new when it was originally purchased, how much has its quality declined over time? Is it ‘Like New’, ‘Very Good’, ‘Good’, ‘Acceptable’, or in ‘Poor Condition’? Factors that affect the condition of the mattress include:
- Sagging or indentations in the mattress surface that measure one inch or deeper
- Splits or cracks in the sleep surface
- Coils, wires, and other metal parts protruding through the side wall
- Issues with the cover, such as loose threads or broken zippers
- Burns, cuts, scrapes, or other types of physical destruction
- Permanent stains, such as bodily fluids or food
- Lingering smells, including odors from tobacco products
- Buildup of dust mites and other allergens
Sellers perks:Is the owner willing to deliver the mattress themselves? Are pillows, pads, and other accessories included with the used mattress? Incentives like these can help used mattress sellers add to the resale price.
Brand:Mattresses manufactured by high-profile companies will usually command a higher price-point than those made by less prominent companies – but this factor is less likely to play a significant role compared to the other criteria listed above.
Step 2: Research Mattress Resale Laws and Regulations
Now that you have a ballpark price-point in mind, let’s look at some laws and regulations guiding the practice of selling used mattresses in the United States. It’s important to note that most mattress resale laws are enforced at the state level; as such, the rules vary from state to state.
Legal considerations for selling a used mattress include:
- Cleaning and sanitizing:In some states, used mattresses must be properly cleaned and disinfected before they can be sold by anyone, including private individual sellers. Approved methods often include commercial laundering, steam cleaning, and/or chemical treatment.
- Re-covering:Some states will only approve the sale of a used mattress is new cover ticking is used. Other states prohibit mattress owners from re-covering their mattress in order to hide stains or physical damage.
- Flammability:Mattress flammability is enforced at the federal level, specifically the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to 16 CFR Part 1633, the ‘peak rate of heat release’ for a mattress may not exceed 200 kilowatts during the standard 30-minute safety test, and the ‘total heat release’ may not exceed 15 megajoules during the first 10 minutes of this test. Mattress owners who are unsure about their model’s flammability status should contact the manufacturer or, alternatively, the CPSC.
Other factors apply to businesses and brands, but not individual sellers. One example is ‘tagging’. In some states, color-coded tags are used to indicate if a used mattress has been properly cleaned and disinfected, or indicate if mattresses that have been rebuilt from used or recycled materials. In virtually every state where tagging laws exist, they do not apply to individuals selling mattresses to other individuals.
Be sure to carefully research all applicable state laws and regulations. This information is typically found through the state’s departments of health and human services, consumer affairs, licensing, and/or agriculture.
Step 3: Write an Advertisement
When crafting a used mattress ad, it’s important to remain truthful about its present condition. Be sure to take several photographs of the mattress from different angles to emphasize its height and size, as well as licensing tags if they are intact. When listing out qualities and characteristics of the mattress in the ad, be sure to include the following:
- The mattress size (Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, or specialty size)
- The mattress height, in inches
- Materials in the comfort system, such as polyfoam, memory foam, latex, and/or microcoil layers
- The support core – springs, foam, latex, or air chambers?
- Fabrics used in the cover, such as cotton, polyester, rayon, wool, and/or lyocell
- The age of the mattress, in years (or months if applicable)
- Whether the mattress was used as a primary sleep surface or a guest bed
- Whether a mattress pad or protector was used
Finally, be sure to list the mattress price somewhere in the ad. Also indicate if the price is negotiable with the abbreviation OBO (Or Best Offer).
Step 4: Choose a Selling Venue
In most cases, mattress owners will not be able to sell their used model to a brick-and-mortar retailer. These establishments usually prefer to exclusively sell new mattress models. In the event that a brick-and-mortar store agrees to purchase a used mattress, the resale price will typically be quite low.
Used mattress sellers typically have better luck using online marketplace sites like Amazon and Craigslist. These sites enable mattress owners to post advertisements for their used mattress, sell directly to other individuals, and coordinate delivery/shipping or pickup details.
Community-based websites, forums, and social media pages can also be valuable resources for used mattress sellers. Many allow users to post ads directly on their sites. Sellers can supplement their digital advertising with physical postings in local newspapers and on bulletin boards throughout their community.
Before attempting to sell a mattress to an individual purchaser, here are a few important considerations:
- Online marketplace sites regulate individual transactions to ensure that both parties are satisfied. In the event that a purchaser does not pay the full price or otherwise fails to fulfill their complete obligation, sellers should reach out to site personnel immediately.
- Mattress warranties are never transferable to secondhand owners, regardless of whether or not the warranty is still valid. Be sure to clarify this point with potential buyers, as they may expect their mattress to be covered under the original warranty.
- Most experts agree that May, June, July, November, and December are the best times of the year to sell a used mattress. These months precede new product rollouts from most leading mattress brands in January and August, and sellers face less competition in the marketplace. Likewise, January and August are generally considered the worst times to sell a used mattress.
- Whether or not a seller includes ‘OBO’ in their price listing, chances are they will need to negotiate with potential buyers. This is why it may be advantageous to sell the mattress at 40% to 50% of the original product price. Even if buyers haggle the price down, the seller may still net a profit of 20% to 30% of the original price.
- Expect visit requests from potential buyers who wish to view the mattress in person before finalizing their purchase. Sellers are free to decline these requests, but doing so may affect their resale success.
- Sellers are not obligated to deliver the mattress to the buyer. If they choose to do so, then the cost of transporting and handling the item should be factored into the price-point. If they choose not to do so, then they may want to consider deducting mattress transportation costs from the price.
- Remember:it is illegal to sell a mattress that has not been cleaned and sanitized, or is infested with bed bugs. It is also illegal (as well as unethical) to sell a mattress as new if it has been used. Those who mislead potential buyers could face legal ramifications.
Learn How You Can Sell Your Used Mattress In 3 Easy Steps
Many people wonder whether they can sell a used mattress or not. Some say that it’s better to discard used ones after some time since they are no good. Ideally, you should not use it for more than 10 years, and most mattresses only last that long. – This is valid only if they are cared for correctly.
However, there are some people who may want to replace theirs before this time. No matter what their reason is. It can be because they have moved to a new place, have changed their bed, bought a different size bed, and so on.
This can be one of the reasons why you may also want to replace your bedding. In such situations, the main question is what you should do with your old mattress. You can dispose of it, recycle it, oreven sell it. The latter option is nonetheless the best option if it’s in good condition.
Can You Sell a Used Mattress?
Yes, you absolutely can. However, there are many factors that come into play when you want to do so. The main question is – how can you sell it and get a fair price for it.
How To Sell a Used Mattress?
We have listed some important points to help you in earning some money for your used mattress. It really doesn’t matter how you choose to do it.
1. Select a Shop
First of all, you need to find a willing buyer of used ones and this may be difficult to do, as not many shops are eager to buy old mattresses. This is because shops can buy new ones at wholesale prices and in bulk. Plus, they also want to maintain their reputation in the market by selling new products and not the used ones.
Still, there are a few shops that buy trade with second-hand products and this is where you offer your mattress. However, these shops generally pay less in order to maintain their own profit margin. So, if you do not want to sell your used one to a shop, you can also trade it yourself. Read on to find out how you can do so.
2. Check the Law
Before you decide to trade your old mattress on your own, you must know the rules and statutes of your city. There can be a law in your state that forbids you to sell a used item.
Therefore, you must check and save yourself the hassle of getting into trouble.
You must consider your options of advertising your used mattress. It is crucial that you choose the right path or platform to advertise. Ensure that the way you select suits you as well as your target audience.
Otherwise, it will just waste your time, money, and efforts. You can turn to newspaper classifieds. forums, online listings, etc.
The best place to advertise would be the one that is popular to this particular field. For example, papers and websites that specialise in mattresses or sleep related products. Also, you can take advantage of word of mouth. since your family and friends trust you as well as your old items more than strangers.
What is a Used Mattress Worth?
Would you ever purchase a used mattress? In an informal poll, we found thatless than 10% of people would buy a used mattress. Surprisingly however, a ton of people try to sell used mattresses all of the time.
What you need to know before selling your used mattress
To help you understand the market you’re selling in, our Dolly Product team pulled together some research on the used furniture market. Let’s start by looking at the volume in which people sell used mattresses:
We found mattresses were the fourth most listed furniture type behind chairs, tables, and beds. Due to how people tend to categorize their furniture, it’s unclear how to make the distinction between bed frames and mattresses, but the data clearly shows that they’re a popular second-hand item listed to be sold.
It seems likely that people were much more inclined to purchase a used table than a mattress. In fact, in the same informal poll, 100% of participants said they would buy a used table versus the less than 10% who said they would purchase a used mattress – clearly, they’re viewed very differently when buying used furniture.
When asked about the reasons behind not buying a used mattress, it came down to concerns over cleanliness (derived from how mattresses and tables are used differently) for the two furniture items.
How often are new vs. old mattresses sold online?
Using Google Trends, we found that new mattresses are listed roughly 2x as often as used mattress on the internet. Again, this is surprising data because we found that only 10% of customers are interested in used mattresses. Most likely, this is because there are more used mattresses available than are being sold. Less likely, but still possible, is the idea that people felt uncomfortable being honest about whether they’d be a used mattress in our poll (let’s hope you’re not staying at their Airbnb!).
When is the best time to sell a used mattress?
August is the most popular month for both used and new mattresses. The second most popular month is January. This lines up with industry experts’ suggestion of buying furniture in August and January due to new furniture entering stores. New furniture releases mean sales and clearance pricing.
What does this mean for how you sell your used mattress?
Many people attempt to sell their used mattress, but not as many people are interested in buying used mattresses. This means that there should be a ton of supply for used mattresses, which should drive prices down.
If you’re trying to sell a used mattress…you’re not going to get much for the mattress, due to the simple fact that it’s used. To help increase your possible payout, try to increase the perception of it being as new as possible.
If any of the following is true, add it to your listing to increase your odds of selling!
- Only used in a guest room
- You have receipts with date of purchase
- Tags are still intact
- Is in plastic protective wrapping
- You used a mattress protector
- Anything to help decrease the perception of it being used
Try to sell your mattress in late fall or late spring. You’ll want to avoid the competition from furniture stores that comes in August and January.
If you’re one of the 10% of people who don’t mind buying a used mattress…you’re in a buyer’s market! Be tough when negotiating with sellers, and don’t be afraid to shoot for a low price. Odds are, they aren’t getting many offers from anyone else. Alternatively, you can agree to the price, but ask that they take care of delivery (and make sure to let them know that Dolly is a great, inexpensive way to bring their used mattress to its new home!).
Buy in August or January to take advantage of the high-volume market. Many people will be looking to take advantage of the pricing deals, therefore getting rid of their old mattress. Take advantage of this!
What is a used mattress worth?
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact value without knowing the details about the mattress. You can run the different attributes through Blue Book for Furniture to get an estimate of its value, but the real market value is probably even lower.
The most typical mattress price in the secondhand market is $250.
Once the mattress has been taken out of its protective seal, it’s going to lose value similar to how a brand new car loses value after driving off the lot.
We’d suggest a healthy dose of low expectations when forecasting the future value of your mattress, otherwise you may be sorely disappointed.
No matter what your mattress is worth, it might need hauling, whether that’s to your new apartment or the dump. Book a Dolly to find Helpers who’ll bring your mattress to its destination, whether it be into the home of an excited new owner, or to its final destination at the dump.
Buying a Used Mattress: Money-saving Idea or Health Risk?
Last Updated on July 23, 2018
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Once upon a time, good quality mattresses were expensive. No so any more. The proliferation of cheap online mattresses means you can get a high quality mattress for half or even a third of what they cost in brick and mortar stores.
So really there’s no excuse for buying a used mattress.
New mattresses have not only gotten cheaper, most sellers provide easy financing opportunities through services like Klarna and Affirm. They allow you to pay for a mattress in manageable chunks rather than the paying the whole amount at once.
If you are still thinking about springing for a used Serta or Stearns & Foster on eBay, here are five reasons why it’s a bad idea.
Table of Contents
You won’t notice them until you’ve started sleeping on the mattress. By then, they’ve spread to your bedding and other furniture and you have to throw everything out.
Removing bed bugs in a mattress is notoriously difficult. Why put yourself through it?
These critters are the reason why it’s also a good idea to stay away from used upholstered furniture.
2. Internal damage
Pictures can tell you a lot. But they may not give you the whole story.
Buying a used mattress online is risky because you cannot tell whether there is any internal damage just from the pictures posted. You’ll realize too late that some of the springs are broken or the mattress sags one side when you sleep on it.
Even when you get the chance to examine it physically before buying, you may still miss the damage. You’ll only realize a few nights later when you keep turning at night and wake up daily with an aching back.
It’s not worth it.
Sleep is extremely important for your health, mental well being and productivity. A good quality mattress is important for good sleep. Buying a new good quality mattress is essentially an investment that pays off in many ways.
3. Short lifespan and no warranty
Unlike cars, I’ve yet to find a mattress manufacturer that allows a transfer of warranty. Only the original buyer is covered.
So you are left with a used mattress with a shorter lifespan since it has already been slept on and no warranty to cover you in case of anything.
Compare that to a brand new mattress that is comfortable, will last 10-15 years and comes with a 10-20 year warranty. Some online mattress brands nowadays even offer lifetime warranties.
4. No returns
What are you going to do if the mattress turns out to be really uncomfortable? Maybe too soft to support you or too firm that it hurts your hips.
Well, you just have to suck it up and live with it or spend extra money on a mattress pad. It’s not like the mattress is visibly damaged that you can demand a refund.
New online mattresses on the other hand come with 100-night trial periods and other companies let you test the mattress for a whole year.
If you don’t like it, just send it back for free. No questions asked and no risks taken.
5. The icky factor
Mattresses get dirty, really dirty. It’s easily the dirtiest object in the bedroom.
A used mattress will harbor pounds of dust, dust mites, pet hair, cockroach dander, bacteria (including oral and genital bacteria), dead skin cells and gallons of old sweat.
That’s not to mention the weird stains, rotten bits of food and whatever else may have made a home in the mattress.
This is not just about feeling disgusted. It could actually affect your health. Imagine spending hours a night on that bed, breathing in all that stuff and getting your skin in contact with it.
Do you still want to buy a used mattress?
Tips for Buying a Used Mattress (If You Really Have To)
- Buy a lightly-used or a bought-but-never-used mattress.
- Buy from well-known retailers who’ll often sanitize and refurbish a used mattress before selling it. Some add a label showing the condition of the mattress.
- When you buy the mattress check carefully for signs of bedbugs before you bring it inside the house. To be safe, even if you don’t find anything, use a water and bedbug proof mattress cover.
- Sanitize a used mattress before using it. Use an antibacterial household cleaner to wipe the surface and leave the mattress in the sun for at least a full day.
Save BIG On Your Next Mattress Purchase
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