The numbers can perhaps be best described as astronomical. After just six years of the nation’s first statewide mattress recycling program, more than 1 million mattresses and box springs have been recycled in Connecticut. The impact has been tangible - resulting in the diversion of more than 18,000 tons of steel, foam, fibers and wood from landfill and incineration, according to program officials.
The Mattress Recycling Council’s (MRC) 2020-2021 Annual Report, submitted this fall to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, highlights the non-stop efforts of the Bye Bye Mattress program to continually grow. There’s little doubt that it’s working.
To collect mattresses discarded from residents and businesses across the state, MRC has recruited nearly 300 entities including municipal transfer stations, waste haulers, nonprofit organizations, mattress retailers, hotels, universities and hospitals to recycle through the Bye Bye Mattress initiative.
In the program, residents in 140 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities have the option to drop off old mattresses at no-cost at collection sites, collection events or through their municipality’s bulky item curbside program. This comprehensive network provides coverage to nearly 98 percent of the state’s residents.
“MRC and the mattress industry are encouraged by the continued growth of mattress recycling efforts in Connecticut,” said MRC’s Managing Director Mike O’Donnell. “We are creating solutions to Connecticut’s solid waste challenges, and we share the state’s commitment to sustainability and the environment.”
The MRC increased the number of mattresses collected from the previous year by 12 percent to 213,540, even in the midst of the pandemic. Established benchmarks were surpassed for solid waste facility participation, units collected from mattress retailers, and participation from small waste haulers that would normally send units to volume reduction facilities or waste-to-energy facilities. During the past year, the program collected 37,777 mattresses from retailers, surpassing the annual goal by 25.9% and recycled 3,606 units from educational facilities. Thirty-one Connecticut campuses are now registered to participate in the program.
When mattresses arrive at a recycling facility, they are cut open and layers of material are separated and prepared for sale. Major uses for the reclaimed material include carpet padding, insulation, filters and new steel products.
To cover program costs, Connecticut’s legislature imposed a fee $11.75, on every mattress and box spring sold as of May 1, 2015, collected by retailers and remitted to the state. Connecticut is one of fewer than a handful of states that have undertaken such a broad and impactful recycling program. The Mattress Recycling Council is a nonprofit organization that operates the statewide recycling programs in states that have mattress recycling programs: California, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
In addition to drop off programs in municipalities across the state, any Connecticut resident may drop-off old mattresses and box springs at no-cost at Park City Green in Bridgeport. At this location, state residents will receive a $2 incentive for each unit they drop off, up to 4 per household per visit and 8 per year.