Meeting On Mattresses

Apr 8, 2011

Government and businesses have figured out how to recycle a lot of things such as bottles and cans, old computers and even left-over paint. But how do you recycle something that’s big, bulky and may contain bed bugs? That’s the subject of the first national meeting on mattress recycling that will be held next Monday in Hartford. 

The Hartford Department of Public Works predicts about 15,000 mattresses will be tossed out in that city alone this year. Marilyn Cruz-Aponte of the D.P.W. says collecting and disposing mattresses costs the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

“$378,000 on mattress disposal is senseless. We really need to take a look at that waste stream and how it should be disposed of other than tapping city operating dollars.”

Of the 40 million mattresses bought in the U.S. every year, very few end up getting recycled. Instead they’re dumped in landfills and incinerators. But Scott Cassel of the Product Stewardship Institute, which is organizing the National Mattress Stewardship Meeting, says there’s money to be made from old mattresses.

“There are a number of recyclers around the country that will take those mattresses, pull it apart so you have the springs which are metal, that can be recycled. You also have foam material that can also be recycled and reused. And then there’s the wood that can be burned for energy value.”

There are only one or two mattress recyclers on the east coast, but a new facility is being planned in Bridgeport.

For WNPR, I’m Nancy Cohen.