- Supplies Guide
The International Sleep Products Association, which has proposed a national mattress recycling program, opposes state-by-state solutions to the problem of used mattress disposal and testified against the Connecticut legislation when it was introduced earlier this year. The bill would have made mattress manufacturers financially responsible for recycling all mattresses discarded in the state. States have enacted similar laws—called extended producer responsibility laws—for a variety of other products, including mercury thermostats, pesticide containers, batteries and house paint.
After Connecticut lawmakers adjourned without passing the bill, ISPA released a statement which said in part, “ISPA has been working for a number of years to encourage responsible recycling of used mattresses and supports the development of legitimate recycling operations. ISPA is currently leading the push for a federal mattress recycling program.”
The ISPA statement also noted that, “Collecting, dismantling and recycling discarded used mattresses can be a complicated process. After listening to parties with an interest in the legislation and recognizing the fundamental practical problems that a new statewide system may encounter, the Connecticut legislature decided not to enact a mandatory used mattress recycling law.”
As part of its effort to oppose this bill in Connecticut, ISPA’s advocacy team coordinated with its members in the state, including Steve Byer, vice president of a Comfort Solutions licensee in East Windsor, Conn., and Bob Naboicheck, president of independent producer Gold Bond in Hartford, Conn.
Byer got involved early in the process when supporters of the legislation asked if he would help draft the recycling bill.
“I felt it was important to be involved in order to best understand the proposed legislation and to perhaps have the ability to influence the bill,” he said.
Byer worked with ISPA to present an organized, united front on the issue, both in commenting on the proposed legislation and in meeting with lawmakers.
“It’s important for the legislators to personally see our blood, sweat, tears and anxiety as we—their constituency—look at the possible unintended consequence of poorly drafted or misguided legislation, which can sometimes be the result of their poor or incomplete information about our industry and our companies,” he said. “These unintended consequences can be a loss of jobs for our state or a loss of business if the legislation inadvertently creates an uneven playing field, for example.”
Naboicheck worked with ISPA to mobilize industry efforts in the state and spent time meeting with Connecticut lawmakers.
“I don’t think our (ISPA) members always understand all that ISPA does on behalf of the industry in a crisis situation like this,” he said. “Without ISPA’s efforts we would have been in a difficult situation in Connecticut. Mattress manufacturers couldn’t do it all. We needed ISPA.”
Naboicheck said he understands the need for a solution to the mattress disposal problem in Connecticut, but is concerned about any solution that disadvantages Connecticut-based mattress manufacturers in relation to those in neighboring states.
“The city of Hartford says it spent over $200,000 to dispose of mattresses last year,” he said. “There has to be a better way. But a better way isn’t throwing all the responsibility on private business. ISPA has a clear plan for a national recycling program that would work everywhere and level the playing field.”
“This is a great example of what industry can do when members get involved in the political process,” said ISPA President Ryan Trainer. “When legislation puts industry and consumers at risk, it’s our responsibility to educate elected officials about the impact of their actions. Steve and Bob did just that, sometimes on very short notice. They personalized the mattress industry’s concerns about the legislation and it made a real impact.”
Similar mattress EPR legislation is pending this year in California and Rhode Island, and ISPA expects more in 2013. (See story on Page 65.)
“Just as our members in Connecticut did, ISPA member involvement will also be critical in communicating to legislators in other states the industry’s concerns with these bills,” Trainer said.
ISPA has proposed federal legislation, the Used Mattress Recycling Act, to help create a national program for recycling used mattress materials. That system would create an efficient, industry-led solution to the challenge of recycling used mattresses, Trainer said. The federal approach also would block states from setting recycling requirements that are different from those at the national level.
ISPA members and other mattress manufacturers, suppliers and retailers who are interested in supporting the association’s efforts against state-by-state legislation and in favor of a national recycling program, should contact Chris Hudgins, ISPA vice president of government relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-683-8371.
This story was updated June 28, 2012.