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Mattress Recycling: Where Do the Parts Go?

by Waverly Wilde

Choosing a new mattress can be hard enough, but where does the old one go? 

Have you ever wondered where your mattress goes when you discard it? And by discarding it, we mean recycling it. Larger than the typical items you dispose of, beds are a bit problematic. They pose problems for both waste haulers and for garbage dumps, where they take up a lot of room. 

Whether you are using a curbside service or the store where you bought your old one, these items are filled with parts that can be reused. But where do they actually go?

mattress being delivered

Well, before they are recycled, they are first inspected for bed bugs. Warming temperatures have helped these critters spread over the past five years, causing somewhat of an epidemic. They are terribly hard to get rid of and for that reason, these mattresses are not accepted. They are rejected for mattress recycling and sent elsewhere to be destroyed. 

Any mattresses that are wet from rain or snow are placed in a separate room to dry while the remaining are sorted. 

Fabric Recycling

First thing removed is any fabrics. The wool batting can potentially be reused as a weed barrier. Due to varying levels of contamination, this layer is tricky. Often, it is used as refuse-derived fuel for waste facilities as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. 

Foam Recycling

For mattresses that have foam, the latex or foam padding is bailed and then sent away. It can be used for waste-to-energy, much like fabric, if the quality is poor. If it can be cleaned, then it is often turned into carpet padding. 

Mattress Filling Recycling

Mattresses that do not contain foam are often filled with a wadding of some kind. Polyester wadding can be reused by the fiber blending industry as a replacement for virgin materials, depending on the quality. Once processed, these blends are used in such things as pet cushions. 

Steel Recycling

different mattress coils

The steel from innerspring mattresses and old box spring units gets stripped away. Newer box spring units don’t come with springs. The springs are then bailed together. They are taken to a metal recycling plant where they are melted down and processed. They are typically cast into new light iron products. 

Mattresses toppers can also be recycled, but the process is a lot different than something with springs. 

All of this adds up. For every 10,000 mattresses recycled, 125 tons of steel, 20 tons of wood, and 15 tons of foam can be reclaimed. This saves around 239 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 40 cars off the road for a year. 

Considering about 34,000,000 mattresses need to be purchased every year, mattress recycling can have a huge impact on our planet’s resources. Not all of these mattresses are replacing new ones, but enough are. By recycling your bed, you can create a greener, more sustainable world for generations to come. 

Now that you know where your old mattress goes, and that the bed's parts will live on, maybe it is time to upgrade your current one? Our mattress experts are standing by and ready to help.