Millions of Mattresses are sold each year, and have presented disposal problems that reach across all management strategies. Once obsolete or replaced, mattresses are difficult to handle, hard to landfill effectively, with internal springs commonly getting entangled in equipment. Connecticut’s reliance on Waste-to-Energy (WTE) for MSW disposal commonly results in Mattresses entrained in the MSW waste load. There, mattresses springs entangle themselves in grates or ash handling systems, causing equipment downtime and management headaches. Some of Connecticut’s WTE plants have ceased accepting mattresses or assess high per unit fees. From the source – residential or institutional discards – to municipal curbside collections and transfer stations, mattresses are problematic to handle, store, compress, and dispose of. Unlike other waste streams such as e-waste, or tires, mattresses pose additional health concerns with the possible infestation of bed bugs (cimex lectularius). Fortunately, mattresses are constructed of materials that can be recycled; steel, cotton batting, urethane foam.
Connecticut became the first state to enact a Extended Producer Responsibility law for Mattresses – Public Act 13 – 42. This law requires mattress manufacturers to create a Mattresses Recycling Council, in order to create a program to recycle and otherwise manage discarded mattresses. The program will be funded by a retail fee at mattress point of sale. Managed by the Council, these funds will cover transportation, recycling, and disposal fees for discarded mattresses.
To date, two (2) companies have located in Connecticut to accept and process discarded mattresses; Willimantic Waste Paper (Windham area), and Park City Green in the city of Bridgeport. The business models are different, with Park City Green relying on greater degree of hand dismantling, providing unique labor opportunities for unemployed and underemployed individuals. Willimantic Waste Paper utilizes a greater degree of mechanical separation. Other entities, notably St. Vincent de Paul have been leaders in mattress recycling, merging recycling with social goals such as jobs creation.
As the first State to pass stewardship legislation for mattresses, Connecticut experience should prove helpful to others considering similar steps; We have provided a link to the testimony associated with the passage of Public Act 13-42.
- Abe Scarr – Director-Connecticut Public Interest Research Group
- Cheryl D. Reedy – Director-HRRA
- Chris Hudgins – CP of Govt Relations & Policy – International Sleep Products Association
- Commissioner Daniel C. Esty and Deputy Commissioner Macky McCleary -CT Dep of Energy & Env Protection
- Kim O’Rourke – Recycling Coordinator – Town of Middletown
- Marilynn Cruz-Aponte – Asst. to Director of Public Works – City of Hartford
- Mayor Bill Finch – City of Bridgeport
- Rep Patricia M. Widlitz – 98th Assembly District
- Scott Cassel – Chief Executive Officer-Founder – Product Stewardship Institute
- Winston Averill – Chair – Connecticut Product Stewardship Council