Many hotels, colleges and universities, healthcare facilities, and multifamily properties end up with used mattresses that need to be removed. There is a growing infrastructure for mattress recycling in Massachusetts and mattresses contain many recyclable materials with established markets. Because of their bulky size, mattresses can be challenging for haulers and disposal sites to manage. Working with a dedicated mattress recycler is a preferable option. Read on to learn more about how to set up a mattress recycling program at your facility.
MassDEP Disposal Ban on Mattresses
Effective November 1, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is adding mattresses to the list of materials that are banned from disposal. This applies to any mattresses, including foundations or box springs, except for mattresses that are contaminated with mold, bodily fluids, insects, oil, or hazardous substances. See the MassDEP Final Waste Ban Amendments for additional details.
RecyclingWorks provides free technical assistance to help businesses and institutions implement a mattress recycling program before the disposal ban goes into effect. Contact us to learn more: 888-254-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donating Mattresses for Reuse
Mattresses in very good condition may be donated through some local, national, or international programs. Visit the Beyond the Bin Recycling Directory or RecyclingWorks Find-a-Recycler tool to find local outlets for reuse. Check with each donation outlet about specifications.
How to Recycle Mattresses
Mattresses must meet the following criteria in order to be recycled:
- Constructed out of metal, textiles, wood, and foam
- Dry and free of mold
Futons, air mattresses, mattress pads and toppers, and water beds are not typically accepted for recycling by mattress recyclers.
Organizations that generate large quantities of mattresses should work with a mattress recycler to site either a temporary or year-round collection location. Mattresses should be collected in a dry, covered storage location with side-door access, such as a storage unit, trailer, or warehouse space to minimize exposure to weather. Collecting mattresses in any kind of open-top dumpster, even if loosely covered with a tarp, is not recommended. The Mattress Recycling Council’s Mattress Stacking Guidelines may be useful for hotels, healthcare facilities, property managers, universities, and other entities that collect large quantities of mattresses for recycling.
When compared to the cost of disposal, there may be savings when recycling mattresses as a separate stream because many trash haulers will charge an additional handling fee when manually separating out mattresses from other waste.
How are mattresses recycled?
Once the mattresses arrive at a processing facility, they are typically inspected and treated for bed bugs. Clean mattresses are cut open and deconstructed through manual and mechanical processes. The material components – scrap metal, foam, fabrics/textiles, and wood – are separated, compacted, and sent for recycling or repurposed for uses such as industrial padding or creating mulch from shredded wood.
Learn about recycling other materials
For more information on other commonly recycled materials visit these pages:
- Bottles & Cans
- Construction Materials
- Fluorescent Lamps/Light Bulbs
- Food Waste
- Single Stream
- View additional information about mattress recycling on the MassDEP Mattress Recycling page.
- Find out how to start or improve your own recycling program.
- To find a hauler or processor for recyclable materials in your area, search our Recycler Database.
- Refer to the RecyclingWorks Guidance for Businesses Contracting for Trash, Recycling, and Food Waste Services when discussing options for mattress recycling with your hauler.
- To find out how you can purchase recycled products, check out our Buying Recycled Products
- Click here to learn about Massachusetts Waste Bans.