How To Dispose of Used & Potentially Hazardous Mattresses (2021 Guide)
Since the innovation of the bed-in-a-box, it’s become so easy to buy a new mattress online. Just pick the one you like, add to cart, pay, and wait for it to arrive in a box. But easy as it is to buy a mattress, disposing of it requires proper, careful steps. So, if you’ve been meaning to get rid of an old mattress and have no idea how to go about it, this article will definitely help you.
We’ve lined up some helpful tips to make sure you get the correct information on how to go about proper mattress removal.
Used Mattresses: Quick Stats
You may not have put single thought to it but did you know that the mattress industry is worth billions of dollars? According to Statista, “in 2018, the mattress market in the United States was valued at 17.3 billion U.S. dollars. This market was forecast to reach a value of 18.9 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.”
This data simply tells us that Americans are buying mattresses – lots of mattresses. Whether it’s for furnishing a new home or buying wholesale for businesses like hotels and B & B’s, mattresses are seemingly flying off the shelves.
So, if Americans are purchasing billions of dollars worth of mattresses, what happens when they’ve become old, sagging, stained, and unusable? Sadly, it usually ends up in the landfill. Recycling seems like a sensible and environmentally-friendly option, but figures show that the US really isn’t the best at recycling. According to reliable data, Americans only recycle a small percentage of household hazardous waste compared to the amount they produce.
When it comes to mattresses, every year, Americans dispose of an estimated 20 million mattresses. In terms of space occupied in landfills, all these used mattresses take up a whopping 132,000 square miles or 23 cubic feet per mattress. Local governments make every effort to decrease these numbers and, overall, decrease waste. California, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have established mattress disposal regulations and guidelines for retailers and mattress owners that require them to recycle used mattresses.
However, there’s only so much the government can do. It takes every individual’s effort to reduce the number of old mattresses ending up in the landfill by signing up for programs such as:
In the next section, we’ll discuss the above and also share some more safe mattress disposal options that will not only help you get your hands off of an old, uncomfortable mattress but help reduce used mattresses from ending up in the landfill, as well.
How to Properly Dispose of Your Used Mattress
Disposing of mattresses responsibly is key to ensuring that you are doing your part in minimizing negative environmental impacts. But other than the environmental costs, you also have to think of the financial costs. Mattresses are big, heavy, and bulky pieces of furniture which obviously make them more expensive to simply throw away.
In fact, landfill operators who accept mattresses charge more because the materials used in a mattress construction may damage the landfill’s equipment. While the government shoulders the added fees, they will still be reimbursed with the tax dollars that you work hard to pay for. Ultimately, while it’s easier to simply take your mattress to the nearest landfill – the costs are pretty high.
So, what are some mattress disposal options for a responsible homeowner/business owner like you? Here are some practical tips for disposing of an old mattress that isn’t harmful to the environment:
1. Donate Your Mattress
The old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” can’t ring truer for old mattresses. If your mattress is between 5 – 8 years old and it’s still in fairly good condition, then it might still be useful to someone else. In fact, to anyone who’s homeless and doesn’t have anywhere comfortable to lay their heads at night, your old mattress can feel like sleeping in the Ritz.
Here are some tips for donating your old mattress:
Start with family.
Do you have anyone in your family who’s just starting out? Maybe someone who’s just about to buy their first apartment? Regardless of which stage in life they may be, someone in your family can possibly make use of your old mattress. You can arrange delivery details with them or if you’re feeling extra generous, you can shoulder all the fees needed to get that mattress to a family member in need.
Contact your local homeless shelters.
Homeless and women’s shelters will always be happy to accept your mattress donations. They need as many resources as possible. Most shelters would be able to help arrange the pick up/delivery details of your used mattress.
Contact a nonprofit organization or local charity.
Whether it’s the Salvation Army or the Furniture Bank Association of America, nonprofits are happy to accept donations for gently-used mattresses. They will usually offer mattress pick-ups, as well. Other worldwide organizations that accept mattress donations include Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity or Catholic Charities.
If you want to donate to a local charity but do not know where to start, you can try checking out donationtown.org. This nonprofit has a database of charities that offer pick-up services for your donations, including mattresses. Also, a simple Google search should lead you to find local nonprofits or charities near you.
Make sure you are actually donating a mattress that is still useful and will not cause the next user any discomfort.
It’s important that your mattress is in good condition before donating it, especially in the case of nonprofits who may not accept used mattresses that are too damaged to reuse.
2. Recycle Your Mattress
How does one recycle a large, bulky mattress, exactly? By breaking up into parts, that’s how. About 90% of the components in a mattress can actually be recycled or re-used to create new, useful products. Here are some mattress parts that are recyclable:
Take note, however, that the average recycling center will usually not accept mattresses that are bed bug-infested, wet, heavily-stained, or with internal parts damaged beyond repair. That’s why it’s best to contact a recycling facility near you and inquire about their specific guidelines. Once you find a recycling center that will accept your used mattress, they will usually charge a small fee to pick up your old mattress (usually around $20 or so).
For mattress retailers and residents located in these states:
You are required, by law, to have your mattress recycled. You need to do so by participating in a program that is facilitated by the Mattress Recycling Council. In a nutshell, here’s how it works for people who reside in the abovementioned states:
For crafty, money-savvy environmental advocates, recycling/upcycling old mattresses can be a great project. Here’s what you can do:
One of the best ways to ensure recycling used mattresses becomes an easier task is to invest in a “green” mattress. These types of mattresses are naturally and responsibly made with sustainable materials that will make it easy for the mattress owner to recycle once it is at the end of its shelf life. Our team recommends the Avocado Mattress.
Natural mattresses can cost more than the average mattress constructed with synthetic materials, but when you think about it, these types of mattresses last longer and are great for the environment, too.
3. Haul Away Your Mattress
Finally, if you do have a mattress that’s too old, too rusty, too bed bug-ridden, or too damaged to donate or even recycle, then it’s time to trust the experts to haul away your mattress. Old, moldy mattresses can be hazardous to your health and should be handled by professionals.
In these cases, you can contract the services of a hazardous waste disposal company to haul away your mattress properly. Here are some ways you can get the help of a mattress disposal service:
Is It Time To Get Rid of Your Old Mattress?
Now that you know exactly how you can safely dispose of your old mattress, it’s time for a mattress check. Is your mattress still in good shape? Let’s take a closer look. Here are some basic factors for you to consider:
Age & Materials Used
How old is your mattress? Experts recommend for mattresses to be replaced every 5 to 8 years. However, this isn’t a standard rule. Different mattress types have different “life expectancies”. And usually, the shelf life of a mattress is dependent on the materials used:
So, how long ago did you purchase your mattress? What is it made of? If it’s getting uncomfortable and you’ve only used it for a couple of years, you can try to flip it over the other side or, you can check the bed frames. Sometimes, if the frames are faulty then it might cause your mattress to sag or feel uncomfortable.
However, if your mattress is more than 5 years old and you’ve done what you can to make it feel more pleasant and it’s still ruining your sleep quality, then it’s the right time to buy a new mattress.
Sagging & Lumps
A sagging mattress or a lumpy mattress does not spell great sleep. But, over time, it does happen – even to the best of mattresses. Let’s talk about each briefly:
Sagging usually happens on an older mattress. Even if you religiously flip the mattress sides as indicated in the care instructions, older mattresses tend to sag where the sleeper’s pressure is usually applied – in the middle of the mattress. It can sometimes feel like there’s a “hole” in your mattress. Needless to say, this causes discomfort and disrupted sleep.
However, a note from sleep experts:
If you have a fairly new mattress and you notice indentations on its surface, this isn’t actually the same as sagging. In fact, this is a good sign that your mattress is conforming to your body. These indentations can actually provide support to your spine and your body’s natural position.
Lumps are the opposite of sagging and can happen to older mattresses, as well. This simply happens as the sleeper’s pressure pushes some of the material up, causing lumps to appear. It’s usually difficult to fix a lumpy mattress short of flipping it over and using the other side.
There are some quick fixes to sagging and lumpy mattresses, such as using mattress toppers and pushing pillows underneath or possibly changing your box springs (if you’re using one). If you’ve tried everything and you’re not getting enough sleep at night, it’s time to dispose of your old mattress.
Squeaky Springs & Coils That Pop Up
A noisy mattress with hard, uncomfortable coils that pop up on its surface are two red flags that cannot be ignored. Creaky mattresses disrupt your sleep, and these metal coils will hurt you.
Needless to say, this situation only happens if you bought a very low-quality mattress or if you’ve owned the mattress for many years. Wear and tear will cause the mattress cover of an innerspring mattress to become thinner and worn over time. Coils will also become rusty and, as a result, cause a mattress to become noisy as the sleeper moves.
Disposing of old mattresses is not an easy thing. After all, mattresses are one of the larger and heavier items found in our households. However, responsible mattress owners should always ensure that old, used mattresses are disposed of correctly and in ways that are not harmful to the environment.
Before considering throwing it away in the landfill, the first step is to always check and see if it can be recycled or donated. This is not only a sustainable way to dispose of a used mattress, it also allows us to help the less fortunate.
If you have any questions about mattress disposal, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to hear from you!