Each year, 35 to 40 million new mattresses and box springs are sold in the United States, and at least 15 to 20 million used mattresses and box springs are discarded.
Recycling provides a number of important benefits:
- Conserves resources by making used steel, foam and other materials available for use in new products
- Reduces reliance on incinerators and landfills by diverting mattresses from the waste stream
- Reduces the number of illegally dumped mattresses
- Creates recycling jobs
More than 80% of a used mattress’ components can be recycled —the metal springs, foam, wood and fibers — and made into new useful products. For example:
- The steel springs are recycled as metal scrap and can be melted and used to make new appliances, building materials and other steel products.
- The foam can be turned into carpet underlayment or animal bed padding.
- The wooden frames can be shredded to produce landscaping mulch.
- The cotton and other fiber can be used in industrial oil filters and other textile applications.
The Recycling Process
Most recyclers currently use the following process to dismantle a mattress:
- The top mattress layer (including the outer fabric) is cut, peeled and separated from the mattress’ interior materials (which can include fiber, polyurethane or latex foam and steel springs).
- The interior materials are pulled apart and separated by type.
- Foam, fiber and other soft commodities are baled and compressed for transport to scrap dealers or companies that will consume them to make new products.
- Metal springs from mattresses and box springs are extracted and sent to scrap recyclers that will sell them to steel mills and foundries.
- Wood is chipped or shredded.