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Old mattresses pose a particular waste management problem.  Disposing of mattresses is difficult because of their bulk, and increasing disposal fees can lead to illegal mattress dumping.

Illegal dumping of mattresses could lead to hundreds of dollars in fines, require tax funds to clean up, and lead to insect infestations.  Help prevent illegal dumping by reporting incidents to local authorities or environmental protection department.

1.  Millions of mattresses are landfilled each year and can take up 28 cubic feet of space.

2.  Any mattresses sent to incinerators are just as difficult to handle.  Mattress springs often damage or get stuck within the machinery.

3. Due to the contamination of water, dirt, wear, illegal dumped mattresses often do not qualify for recycling.

4. Local municipalities often have inconsistent collection practices, which leads to the loss of qualifying recyclable materials.

Mattresses are made up of foam, cotton, wood, and steel, all recyclable materials. Recyclers can recover approximately 80 percent of materials from a mattress and box spring.

Waste Management Options

1. Old mattresses that are merely being replaced can be donated or resold, though businesses may need to obtain special permission to resell.  Because this option reduces waste entirely, it is the most preferred option.

2. Some companies can refurbish old mattresses by stripping it and replacing the foam, cotton, and covering.  These companies replace the filling and retain the original springs.

3. Recycling mattresses involve recovering, boxing, and baling all mattress materials and selling them to their respective recycling processors.  Steel and cotton together make up over 60 percent of most mattresses.

Mattress Recycling Process

1. Recyclers first remove wood, steel, and cotton from the mattress. Wood is sold to chippers for use as fuel, and steel is sold to be melted and used to produce new materials.

2. Recovered foam is torn, or shredded using special machinery, and sold for use as insulation or carpet padding.


1. Municipal collection and processing of mattresses has been proven costly and difficult. Consistent quality and handling make recovering materials for recycling a challenge.

2. Hotels, motels, and apartment complexes often face the task of disposing leftover or damaged mattresses.  These types of facilities should consider taking old mattresses to special mattress recyclers who are equipped to handle the material.

3. Businesses who need to dispose of several mattresses at once often need to hire a hauler, due to the difficulty of transporting.

4. Mattress manufacturers could encourage recycling by establishing an incentive program, or by taking on responsibility for transporting old mattresses to private recycling businesses.

5. Some recyclers can add mattresses to the materials that they are currently recycling.  Check with your solid waste governing body to inquire about any special permitting.

6. Many local governments will assist with setting up a recycling facility and requesting special permits.

7.  Recycling mattresses poses a potential bed bug danger to workers.

-Mark and isolate any discovered infestations.

-Record all prevention methods in place within the recycling facility.

-Keep a clean work area in the facility, including docks, vacuums, and delivery vehicle seat


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