What To Do With Old Mattresses

Feb 22, 2012

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra says used mattresses are expensive for cities like his to dispose of and that they are a burden on their streetscapes.  Now, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Segarra wants the state to force manufacturers to play a bigger role in what happens when mattresses are no longer wanted. The mayor is pushing a senate bill that would establish a mattress stewardship program. Paid for by manufacturers, the program would fund both collection and recycling of used mattress. At a hearing before the general assembly's environment committee, Segarra described the bill this way. "Senate bill 89 is based on a principle of product stewardship, which appropriately shifts responsibilities to assess manufacturers for the full life cost of mattresses by incorporating those costs in the sale price of the product." The bill would do several things, including making producers pay for free, convenient, and accessible state-wide collection of used mattresses.  They would also pay for what's called "end-of-life" management for used mattresses.  Dan Esty is the state's commissioner of energy and environmental protection.  He told legislators he supports the bill. "It represents an important piece of the broader effort that our department is now undertaking to think again about how we manage solid waste in the state and try to do more to promote reuse and recycling." Not everyone likes the bill.  Ryan Trainer is the president of the International Sleep Products Association and represents mattress manufacturers and their suppliers.   "While we are in general support of the basic purpose of the bill here, the approach that's being taken in SB 89 is not workable." Trainer says that his members want a national -- not a state -- solution.  And he says Segarra's bill is unworkable, would be too expensive for manufacturers, and could harm retailers.  So he's working on national legislation on the issue.  When asked just how much money mattress makers would put on the table to fund programs like this, Trainer said that's being discussed internally.  But this bill, he says, is no good. For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.