Mattress Disposal Guide
The Mattress Recycling Council estimates that Americans dispose of roughly 15 to 20 million mattresses every year. The average mattress takes up 40 cubic feet, which means that one year’s worth of discarded mattresses will occupy more than 132,000 square miles of landfill space. To cut down on waste and preserve landfill space, mattress owners in the U.S. are encouraged to get rid of their old mattresses using alternative means. This guide will feature some helpful tips for donating, recycling, reselling and reusing old or used mattresses.
If you do not live close to any thrift stores, recycling centers and other facilities that accept used mattresses, then a junk removal service may be your best bet. These options include national companies that serve households across the country. Local junk removal specialists are widely available, as well. Due to the recent emphasis on landfill conservation and green disposal methods, these companies will often attempt to recycle or donate used mattresses before sending them to the dump.
Let’s discuss the step-by-step process for hiring a company to remove your mattress
- Check your warranty before getting rid of an old mattress, as the seller or manufacturer of the mattress may offer complimentary buy-back and/or disposal services.
- Calculate the weight of the mattress. Some junk removal companies charge by volume, while others will assess a flat per-item fee.
- Research national and local junk removal services available in your area, and perform a cost comparison for all viable options. Note that some companies charge an additional fee for home-based pickups, on top of the per-item removal costs.
This should yield a thorough, ordered list of junk removal services. Some of the companies that offer nationwide pickups include:
- Load Up:This company will remove any/all household goods and operates nationwide. They offer very competitive pricing, operate in all 50 states, and have terrific customer service making them a solid choice if junk removal is your best bet. They will remove mattresses with bed bugs if customers give advance notice
- 1-800-GOT-JUNK: This company will remove any old household goods and furnishings, including mattresses. Simply call the number (800) 468-5865 and set up a time for a uniformed truck team to visit your residence. In most cases, appointments are made with a two-hour window. 1-800-GOT-JUNK offers upfront, all-inclusive pricing based on the overall volume of all removed items. The company will accept mattresses with bed bugs if the customer gives advanced notice.
Roughly 80% to 90% of mattress parts (by weight) can be recycled or repurposed to create new products. To properly recycle an old or used mattress, first locate the nearest recycling center that accepts them. A quick Internet search using your zip code will most likely yield at least one location within reasonable driving distance. Both ByeByeMattress.com and Earth911 offer online aggregators that allow you to search for recycling centers accepting certain household goods (such as mattresses) in your geographic area.
In most cases, you will be charged a fee for recycling your old mattress. Expect to pay $20 to $40 per mattress if you arrange for pick-up services at your home, or $10 to $20 for each mattress you transport to a recycling center in your own vehicle. The criteria for acceptable mattress donations will vary by organization. Most centers will not allow you to donate a mattress that is wet, stained or infested with bed bugs. However, broken or torn mattresses can usually be donated.
State laws and regulations may apply. In California, Connecticut and Rhode Island, for instance, mattress stewardship laws require retailers to include an additional fee for all customers who are purchasing a new mattress. Money from these fees are used to:
- Purchase containers and materials used at collection sites
- Transport mattresses to collection sites
- Facilitate recycling and collection events
- Provide incentive payments to designated recycling center personnel
To learn more, please visit the ‘Programs by State‘ section found on ByeByeMattress.com.
Recyclable components of mattresses include the springs, foam, upholstery, wooden parts and the box spring. For more information on other uses for different mattress parts, check out the section below on breaking down and reusing mattresses.
The average mattress has a lifespan of seven to eight years. Unless an old mattress is in complete disrepair, then you may be able to donate it to an organization that accepts used household goods. Some national charities that may receive old or used mattresses and mattress parts include:
- The Salvation Army:This international organization has been serving families in need since the 1860s, and today maintains thrift stores and charity shops across the United States. The Salvation Army offers free furniture pickup services for mattress donations in certain locations; goods may also be dropped off in person at any location that receives used goods. Mattresses must be in good shape and free of tears, burns, and other types of damage. Donations to the Salvation Army are tax-deductible; single mattresses are valued between $15 and $35, while double mattresses are valued between $12.50 and $75.Please note that the Salvation Army may refuse to accept mattresses in certain states or municipalities.
- Free furniture pickup services
- Salvation Army’s tax deduction value guide
- Habitat for Humanity International:HFHI is an international nonprofit organization that strives to provide sustainable and affordable living accommodations for people in need. The organization accepts a wide range of gently used household good and furnishings, including mattresses. HFHI sells donated goods at ‘ReStore’ home improvement centers located across the country; to donate a mattress to HFHI, contact the nearest ReStore facility and let them know you have a mattress to donate. You may drop off the mattress in person; many ReStore locations offer free furniture pickup, as well.Habitat for Humanity may not accept mattress donations in some locations.
- Donate goods to Habitat ReStore
- Furniture Bank Association of America:The FBA’s mission is to provide home furnishings “at little or no cost” to individuals and families living in poverty. The association operates nearly 80 donation centers in North America. Households are welcome to donate old mattresses to the FBA, although pickup services are limited to a 15-20 mile radius of the nearest bank’s brick-and-mortar location; contact the nearest bank to see if pickup services are available. The association will make exceptions for large commercial or institutional donations; banks will usually drive up to three hours for these furniture pickups, and some banks have large semi-trailers capable of traveling up to 450 miles for large donations.
- List of U.S. furniture banks
- Goodwill:This American charity organization provides job training and employment placement services for people who face certain barriers in the job market. Goodwill also operates more than 3,200 thrift stores and donation centers across the country; in 2015, roughy 85% of revenue generated from donated goods was used to expand the organization’s professional development and community outreach programs.At this time, Goodwill does not accept used mattresses or box springs; however, you are welcome to donate mattress pads, bed frames, bedding and linens.
- Goodwill donor guidelines
Additionally, you will often be able to donate an old or used mattress to a local charity organization. The website DonationTown.org allows visitors to search for local organizations that accept used mattresses and other household furnishings. These may include:
- Homeless shelters
- Women’s and family shelters
- Locally owned thrift stores
Break it Down and Reuse it
Next, let’s look at some ways you can break down an old or used mattress and reuse certain components for different purposes.
- The average mattress contains 25 pounds ofsteel, most of which is found in the springs. Steel can be melted down to create a wide range of parts and products. Simply remove all springs and other steel parts from your mattress, then bundle them together and sell them for scrap. You can locate scrapyards and metal recyclers in your area with a quick Internet search. Rates will vary by location, but expect to earn roughly $10 for 100 pounds of scrap metal.
- Thepolyurethane foamin mattresses can be shredded and repurposed around the house for carpeting, car seat cushions, pillows, pet bedding and other types of padding.Memory foamandlatex foamcan be reused in a similar fashion.
- Most mattresses include a mix ofnatural fiberslike cotton, wool and silk, andnon-natural fiberslike polyester and rayon. Most natural and non-natural fibers found in a mattress can be recycled. Like foam, mattress fibers can also be reused to make padding or insulation.
- Thewooden partsof mattresses can serve several functions once the mattress has been taken apart. In addition to firewood, this wood can be shredded and used as a gardening or lawn mulch.
- Nails, screws and other small metal partsin reasonable condition can be removed from the mattress and reused for various household projects.
- Buttons,braidingand other decorative features can be repurposed for DIY sewing projects and other household designs.
When disassembling a mattress, please exercise caution: innersprings contain many sharp parts that can cause bodily injury. For a detailed step-by-step guide for taking apart a mattress, check out this eight-minute video posted by YouTube user Canadian Treasure Hunter.
Finally, let’s look at some fun, creative ways to repurpose your old or used mattress.
- Mattress springs can be used for a wide range of arts and crafts. These include decorative candle and plant holders, wall sconces, photo frames and backyard trellises.
- If you enjoy decorating for the holidays, mattress springs can also be used to create metal wreath displays and tree ornaments.
- An old memory foam mattress can be used to form a comfy bed for your dog or cat.
- Other uses for old memory foam padding include plush household items like bean bags, chair cushions, pillows, dishwashing sponges and stuffed animal filler.
- Green Diary suggests using old mattress components to improve your backyard compost pile. Simply construct a sturdy compost bin using the wooden slats, and then scatter mattress stuffing and fibers around the compost to protect it from pests.
- The durable fabric upholstery of an old mattress is ideal for making throwaway rugs for your foyer, garage, shed or utility room.
- The DIY design website Pinterest features more than 1,000 postings about projects involving old mattresses.
- Use your old mattress as the canvas for a painting or other art project. YouTube user KIPTOE offers some inspiring ideas in a 2016 ‘Mattress Street Art’ video tutorial.
How to Tell When You Need a New Mattress
Most of us were taught to buy a new mattress every ten years or so. The truth is, the right time to replace your mattress depends on a variety of factors, and it may be more often than you think. If you can relate to any of the following, then it’s likely time to get a new mattress:
- Body Aches:You or your partner find yourselves waking up feeling stiff, achy or numb.
- Sleep Deprivation:Even after eight hours of sleep, you still feel tired.
- Dust:Your mattress looks dusty, or you find yourself coughing or sneezing.
- Sagging:You find yourself rolling to the center of your mattress.
- Wear and Tear:Your mattress has rips, stains, lumps or worn edges.
- Comparison:You’ve slept on a different mattress, or even a couch, and experienced better sleep than on your mattress.
- Age:You’ve had your mattress longer than seven years, or you can’t remember how long you’ve had it.
How long a mattress will last also depends on what type it is. The average lifespan for each type of mattress is outlined below:
What about your warranty?
If your mattress is worn out, you’re probably wondering if the wear and tear is covered under your warranty. It’s important to understand what’s covered in your warranty before you purchase a mattress, but we’ll run through the most common features below.
A warranty is essentially a company’s promise to stand behind its product, and there are two main types:
Written: A written warranty is just what it sounds like. The company agrees, in writing, to replace a mattress if damage falls under certain listed conditions. These usually last five, ten, fifteen or twenty years and are not required by law.
Implied: Implied warranties are required by law and include:
- Warranty of Merchantability:The product will be functional and include everything advertised.
- Warranty of Fitness:The product can be used for everything the seller claims.
All warranties have different stipulations, but there are items that are commonly covered or not covered:
What is Covered:Typically, a mattress warranty cover product defects, not wear and tear from normal use. Problems that are usually included are:
- Saggingbelow aspecified depth, often 1.5 inches
- Coilsthat break, bend or come out of the side
- Seamsthat come undone
What is Not Covered:Problems that arise from normal use or an owner’s accident are typically not covered and may include:
- Saggingthat doesn’t reach thespecified depth
- Lumpinessfrom long-term use
- Discolorationfrom washing
Furthermore, there are actions that will usually void your warranty, including:
- Removing the law tag
- Improper support (box spring or bed frame)
- Failure to rotate mattress
- Mattress is given to someone else
One more point to keep in mind is the difference between prorated and non-prorated warranties:
- Prorated: The owner isn’t expected to cover repair or replacement costs, other than maybe transportation
- Non-prorated:The owner must cover a percentage of the repair or replacement costs.
Additional Tuck Resources
For more great resources related to purchasing and owning mattresses, check out the following Tuck guides:
Mattress Recycling Business Opportunities
Landfill Bans and Environmental Responsibility Initiatives Spur Development
Mattress recycling has emerged as a recycling business opportunity in recent years. It has been aided by the greater than four million old mattresses and a similar number of box springs being disposed of every year, in conjunction with growing pressures to better manage this waste stream. Landfill pressures and environmental responsibility initiatives have helped position mattress recycling as an emerging opportunity within the recycling industry, with more mattress recycling operations continuing to open.
Why Recycle Old Mattresses and Box Springs
Almost 4.5 million mattresses and 4.5 million box springs are sent to the landfill or incinerator every year in the United States, according to Nationwide Mattress Recycling, amounting to 250 million pounds of mattress material. With an average mattress consuming 23 cubic feet of space in a landfill, and the threat of fire retardants leaching from them, there is increasing pressure from landfills to divert old beds.
At the same time, environmental initiatives by the mattress industry, retailers, institutions and the hospitality industry also are creating an increased demand for mattress recycling services. The good news is that mattresses are widely recyclable – over 95 percent on average according to one mattress recycler.
Sources of Mattresses
Sources of mattresses can include:
- Municipal waste management and recycling programs
- Hotels and other hospitality industry generators of old mattresses
- Mattress manufacturers and retailers offering to recycle old mattresses
- Individual households
- Charity programs that generate unusable mattresses while attempting to provide mattresses to those in need
- Also consider taking stuffed furniture as well.
Public policy changes can have an important influence on increasing mattress recycling, and can increase the viability of a mattress recycling business where favorable incentives are in place. Corporate mattress recycling initiatives, such as the one announced by Ikea, can also drive the need for recycling service providers.
As of 2017, there were 56 mattress recycling facilities in North America, an uptick of 30% since 2013.
Sources of Revenue
Typically, mattress recyclers charge to accept old mattresses – based on websites reviewed; this is generally in the $12 -20 range. Recycled materials are also sold. In some jurisdictions, stewardship fees will help improve the viability of recycling operations.
Charging fees can deter old mattress recovery, however. Free drop-off can stimulate recycling efforts. Some jurisdictions facilitate the cost of recycling by levying a product recycling fee at the time of new pallet purchase.
Facility and Equipment Requirements
A mattress recycling facility requires covered warehouse space with receiving/shipping doors and dock plates to receive inbound mattresses, a teardown area for disassembling mattresses, and storage for unbaled and baled residuals of the teardown process.
Equipment may include a range of machinery, including industrial baler, wood grinding equipment, forklift or pallet jack for moving bales, open bins for recovered steel, and a compactor for non-recyclable residuals.
How It Works
Mattresses and box springs are created from a number of materials, including wood, metal, fabric and plastic, which can all be recycled once they are separated. The recovery rate of recyclable bed materials is over 95 percent. At Canadian Mattress Recycling, operators take apart box springs and mattresses by hand. As these products are being dismantled, materials are sorted and segregated. Some materials are baled to save space in the recycling facility and provide transport efficiencies. Wood can be reduced to chips and steel sent to steel recyclers. Materials recovered can include:
Markets for Recovered Materials
Aside from receiving compensation for incoming mattresses, recyclers also hope to generate revenue from the reclaimed materials:
- Quilting and foam can be turned into carpet underlay.
- Wood is recycled into biofuel or other recycled wood products
- Plastic is recycled by plastic recyclers
- Steel from the boxsprings is recycled into new metal products
- Cotton and felt can be recycled into new felt and insulation
Mattress Recycling Companies and Organizations
Statewide mattress recycling stewardship programs have been established in California, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Bye Bye Mattress program, operated by the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) has made a difference in those states. Almost three years after MRC first launched Bye Bye Mattress, MRC recyclers have collected 3 million mattresses from hundreds of cities, towns, solid waste facilities, landfills, and other entities like retailers, hotels, and universities.
For more information on mattress recycling, please contact the Mattress Recycling Council and the International Sleep Products Association.
Mattress Recycling: Why & How to Do It
By Rosie Osmun
Last Updated On January 24th, 2020
You’ve heard about recycling paper and plastic, but did you know you can recycle your mattress, too? Americans dispose of up to 20 million mattresses each year according to industry…
You’ve heard about recycling paper and plastic, but did you know you can recycle your mattress, too?
Americans dispose of up to 20 million mattresses each year according to industry sources, adding as much as 800 million cubic feet to landfills. That’s a lot of springs and foam!
Enjoy30% OFFany Amerisleep Mattress
This is especially problematic at a time when many cities and states are grappling with mounting trash heaps and dwindling landfill space. Mattresses also pose ongoing problems after they’ve hit the trash heap.
Luckily, thereissomething you can do about it…
Mattress Recycling 101
The burgeoning recycling industry and states pressured for landfill space have been makingmattress recyclinga priority in recent years. Learn why you should recycle your next mattress and how to do it.
Why Mattress Recycling?
Landfills are already overflowing, and there is a finite amount of trash they can hold.
The average American discards about 1,600 pounds of trash per year, and mattresses take up a lot of space, with each bed occupying 20 to 60 cubic feet. Recycling your bed can help reduce your carbon footprint, and helps existing landfills last longer.
When old landfills become too full, we have to make new ones, further encroaching on animal habitats and reducing space that could be used for other things for many decades to come. Several urban areas simply do not have the empty space.
Mattresses pose problems once in the landfill as well.
- Mattress materials are often not biodegradable, so they spend decades and even centuries taking up space.
- Their large, heavy-duty frames can damage expensive equipment.
- Chemicals in some materials can leach out into the surrounding soil and groundwater.
Fees are minimal, usually under $15. Many city landfills and mattress retailers charge much more for mattress disposal (often $20 to $50 or more). Several recycling programs are run by non-profit groups as well that offer social benefits to many local communities.
Another good reason? If you live near a mattress recycler or have a community program, it’s also easy. All you have to do is drop the mattress off (some will even come pick it up).
What is Mattress Recycling?
Mattress recycling involves taking apart the components of beds and reusing them in other applications. It is different then mattress refurbishing or renovating, which involves reupholstering and reselling the bed.
Most materials in a mattress can be repurposed once a bed is deconstructed (about 85-90%), and enterprising entrepreneurs are constantly developing new ways to use old bedding.
- Springs & Coils : Metal can melted and made into new items.
- Foams : Mattress foams can be shredded and used in carpet padding , moving pads, and as a fuel source.
- Fibers : Cotton and other fibers can used in filters, insulation or burned for fuel.
- Fabrics & Upholstery : Can be reclaimed for use in other items.
- Wood : Can be chipped for mulch or burned for fuel.
How to Recycle Your Mattress
Currently, there are over 50 mattress recycling facilities in North America, and their numbers are growing all the time. Earth911.org maintains a directory of facilities, so you can see if there is one in your area. Simply search “mattresses” and your location. The International Sleep Products Association also hosts a list of mattress recycling facilities.
Some mattress recyclers only accept beds from retail or manufacturing partners, but many allow individuals to drop off beds or will pick them up for a small fee. Many cities also have annual mattress recycling days or community drop off locations.
If you are upgrading to a more comfortable mattress, you can also see if your retailer partners with any mattress recycling programs.
Source: Resource Magazine
No Recycling Facilities Nearby?
If you live in an area with no nearby mattress recycling facilities or community recycling programs, here are more eco-friendly ways to repurpose your old mattress:
If your mattress is still in good, clean condition and simply wasn’t right for you, there’s a good chance you can resell it for a small amount. Local classified ads, garage sales, and Craigslist are excellent places to find a new home for your mattress.
Recycling plants aren’t the only places that accept used beds. Other places like furniture banks, homeless shelters and domestic abuse shelters may also welcome beds that are still in decent shape.
For example, near Amerisleep in Arizona, we found five places on Earth911.org that accept used mattresses including non-profit thrift stores and a furniture bank. DonationTown.org is another excellent place to find local places in need of mattress donations.
Mattresses in less than perfect shape (but still sanitary) may be useful to animal shelters or there may be local people that recycle bed parts for art and other projects. Craigslist or Freecycle are good places to list a free mattress for pickup.
Recycle it yourself.
Some recycling plants may not accept complete mattresses, but they may very well accept the components if you break them down yourself. If your bed has coils, they may even pay you a little cash in exchange for the metal.
While wood and springs can be recycled or sold for scrap, padding and foams can be used to stuff throw pillows, make pet beds or refurbish seating cushions. Fabric scraps can even become rags or be used for stuffing and other projects.
Soon, several states including Rhode Island, Connecticut and California will actually require mattress recycling, subsidized in part by mattress manufacturers, retailers, and a small fee when new beds are purchased. A few other states have plans in the works as well.
As mattress recycling becomes more financially feasible and uses are created for the materials, the idea of recycling rather than adding to landfills only going to continue growing, which is big benefit for the environment.
So, next time you buy a new bed or need to get rid of an old one, keep recycling in mind.
You can sleep a little easier on your new bed knowing you helped conserve vital resources, reduce pollution, and extend the life of existing landfills, plus, mattress recycling is cheap and pretty easy, too.
Have you recycled mattresses in the past? Did you reuse your mattress another way besides recycling it?
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
About the author
Rosie Osmun regularly contributes to the Amerisleep blog writing about topics including, reducing back pain while sleeping, the best dinners for better sleep, and improving productivity to make the most of your mornings. She finds the science of sleep fascinating and loves researching and writing about beds. Rosie is also passionate about traveling, languages, and history.
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How to Recycle Mattresses
Mattresses are just about the bulkiest item a consumer can recycle. On the plus side, you’re likely only disposing of one once every 10 to 20 years, but the size and weight means it won’t be an easy process.
The good news is that mattresses contain several valuable materials like steel that increases the recycling market. However, most mattress recycling companies don’t want to deal with consumers disposing of one mattress, especially if you need it hauled away. This means your best bet is to find a hauler who will recycle it for you.
Here are the four best options (in order of ease and cost) to accomplish this:
- If you’re buying a replacement mattress that is being delivered, ask if the store will haul away your old mattress for recycling.
- If your local recycling program offers bulk waste collection, call and ask if mattresses are included and recycled.
- Call a secondhand store like Goodwill, The Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul (each local affiliate has different acceptance/collection rules) and ask if mattress donations are accepted/hauled away for recycling.
- If you’re recycling a mattress to clean out a property, find a local hauling company that will take away this and other items for recycling. You can find these companies in the phone book or using an online search engine like Yelp.
Frequent Mattress Recycling Questions
St. Vincent de Paul has its own recycling program in California and Oregon that recycles 170,000 mattresses and box springs annually, so it’s possible your local store will accept and ship them for recycling.
Metal springs are sold as scrap metal, as steel is one of the most commonly recycled materials in the world. The wood is often chipped or used for mulch. The foam can be recycled into carpet padding, and fabrics can be recycled into industrial machinery filters.
- Bye Bye Mattress:Educational guide and recycling locator for California, Connecticut and Rhode Island, provided by the Mattress Recycling Council
- dreamGreen:A video on Mattress Firm’s recycling initiative, including a breakdown of how mattresses are recycled
- How One Company Is Changing Mattress-Making:Some small-scale manufacturers are trying to shake up the mattress-making industry and inject some ease into the shopping experience, making it a little more eco-friendly, too
- Green Label Guide: Mattresses:A look at some of the industry’s most relevant third-party certifiers and a few rules on how to evaluate them
Mattress Recycling Near Me
How to Dispose of Old Mattress
Is it time to replace or upgrade your mattress? A mattress generally lasts around 10 years, so you may or may not know exactly what to do with your old mattress. There are a few different options depending on things like: where your new mattress was purchased, where you live, and what your preferences. We’ll run down the easiest and environmentally friendly ways to get rid of that old mattress. Since close to 15 million mattresses end up in a landfill each year, it’s essential to take a little extra time to avoid this whenever possible.
How Do I Get Rid of an Old Mattress?
If you’ve purchased your mattress from a brick and mortar store like a furniture or mattress store, you are most likely having the mattress delivered to your home. Nearly every retail store will include the removal of your old mattress in the price of delivery if you desire. Check with the salesperson when you are setting up delivery and make sure they can remove your old mattress. You may also want to check that they follow through with recycling old mattress they pick up and they do not just end up at the dump and then a landfill.
If it is a smaller independent mattress retailer, they may or may not be taking the extra steps to haul mattresses to a recycling center that accepts them. Usually, larger chains are set up to take them to a recycling center where they are disassembled, and whatever parts can be recycled are separated. This is usually a free service or included with delivery costs, and would be the simplest, least complicated way to get rid of that old worn-out mattress. You won’t have to wrap or load up a large, heavy mattress, so if this is a possibility save your back and some time. Let the professionals remove it for you.