Zero Waste Shanghai
How to Keep Your Mattress Out of the Landfill
Each year, millions of mattresses enter landfills around the world. They’re large, bulky, and composed of a wide range of materials that make them difficult to crush for compact disposal. Keeping mattresses out of landfills takes efforts on two fronts. Purchasing more biodegradable, eco-friendly mattresses is a start followed by increasing the number of mattress recycling programs. This two part solution keeps mattresses out of landfills and makes the best use of natural resources.
Choosing Your Next Mattress
The complex nature of mattress construction makes it impossible to make a mattress that is 100 percent organic and natural. But, you can find options that are biodegradable and more environmentally conscious in their construction. The search is even more difficult when you consider that the mattress industry does not have regulations or guidelines as to what terms like “green”, “natural”, or “eco-friendly” mean.
Instead of relying on labels, you can look for a mattress made with natural materials that have gone through as few manufacturing processes as possible. Mattresses made using the following materials in the cover, comfort layers, and support core are more biodegradable and less harmful to the environment once disposed of:
Plant-based polyfoam and memory foam
Natural, organic fibers from cotton or wool
Fire socks made of natural fibers like wool, cotton, or thistle (Kevlar doesn’t require any chemical treatments so is also consider environmentally friendly though it isn’t natural.)
Of all the mattress options available on the market today, natural latex mattresses are the most environmentally friendly. Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree, a sustainable resource. The sap then goes through either the Dunlop or Talalay process to create a latex mattress that’s durable, comfortable, and biodegradable. Keep in mind that even natural latex mattresses will have some synthetic materials in them as they have anywhere from 60 to 95 percent organic natural materials.
Recycle the Old Mattress
What comes in must go out, and mattress disposal continues to evolve. Mattress recycling programs deconstruct mattresses and reuse their components, such as:
Steel: The average innerspring (coil) mattress contains 25 pounds of steel. Once removed from the mattress, the steel can be melted down and used to make something new.
Wood: While mattresses may not contain wood, many foundations the mattresses are paired with do. The wood can be chipped, mulched, or pulped for any number of uses including making paper.
Polyurethane Foam: This common mattress component easily breaks down to make carpet padding, car seats, and other products that need dense foam for shock absorption.
Fibers and Fabrics: Natural and synthetic fibers and fabrics can be removed, shredded, and reused. Natural fibers can be used to make yarn while synthetics are often shredded, melted, and used to make new textiles.
You can break a mattress down yourself and recycle the individual components, but it can be time consuming. However, a neighborhood or city mattress recycling program allows you to pool resources that could benefit your community. Let your local recycling facilities know what kind of services you want and need. They’re far more likely to provide them if they know there is demand.
You may be able to work with the current recycling facilities in your area to develop a plan for mattress deconstruction. As you develop a program, think about including a mattress pickup service that can help people get their mattresses from their home to the facility at a reasonable cost. Working as a community gives you the maximum benefit and not only keeps mattresses out of landfills but reuses their materials in responsible ways.
This article was written by Best Mattress Reviews
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