Connecticut mattress recycling program collected more than 162,000 mattresses and diverted more than 2,300 tons of material from disposal during the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to a recently released report on the state’s program.
The mattress industry created the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), a non-profit organization, in 2013 to develop and administer a recycling program, which was dubbed the Bye Bye Mattress Program. It is funded through a $9 fee collected from consumers on all mattress and box spring sales in the state.
The program officially began operating on May 1, 2015 in accordance with a new state law. It now averages recycling 14,000 mattresses a month. MRC collects mattresses from 125 communities and 169 public and private entities that dispose of large volumes of discarded mattresses.
On average, 70 percent of a mattress is recycled. Officials are pushing to increase that percentage to 75 percent. Program materials suggest that 80 percent of a mattress can be recycled. In the program’s first two years, a total of 313,661 mattresses were collected for recycling.
MRC’s education and outreach efforts are designed to inform consumers, mattress retailers, and other stakeholders about the Bye Bye Mattress Program, that the fee is mandated by state law, why the fee is needed, what the fee funds, how to recycle through the Program, and that some parties have obligations.
In addition to Connecticut, MRC operates programs in Rhode Island and California.
Among the many locations across making use of the program is the Naval Submarine Base in New London. The Base used the program to assist with the recycling and transportation of 692 mattresses from barracks, submarines, and Navy hotel lodging facilities connected to the Base. MRC collected mattresses from the Base in New London three times during the fiscal year.
Despite the program’s achievements to date, one objective is not being met. Based on MRC’s experience during the past two years, the report points out, it became clear that the healthcare facility goal was “impractical.”
Mattresses discarded by healthcare facilities are not recycled for two primary reasons: biological contamination and mattress residual value, according to the report. In addition, a strong secondary markets exist for specialty hospital mattresses discarded by healthcare facilities. As a result, discarded units are frequently resold domestically or exported, the report explained.
“Therefore, those units are not being landfilled or incinerated in Connecticut and are not available for recycling. Furthermore, healthcare mattresses with breached outer ticking or physical contamination may pose health risks, and are instead disposed of as solid or biological waste due to liability concerns,” the report points out.