ISPA encourages industry to get involved as mattress recycling legislation looms

Las Vegas Market ISPA mattress recycling forum
ISPA held a well-attended mattress recycling forum at the winter Las Vegas Market.

“If you think the issue of used mattress recycling doesn’t affect you, think again.” That was a key message at a well-attended mattress recycling forum sponsored by the International Sleep Products Association Jan. 29 at the World Market Center in Las Vegas.

“In 2013, more states will consider burdensome recycling laws that may cost mattress manufacturers and retailers millions of dollars each year,” said ISPA President Ryan Trainer, who led the forum during the winter Las Vegas market.

ISPA supports a nationwide mattress recycling solution, one that makes sense for the entire industry—manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and consumers. At the same time, the association is working to influence the growing list of proposed laws at the state level. In 2012, it helped to scuttle burdensome, impractical bills proposed in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

“Effective and efficient recycling is within reach and will protect the industry from burdensome and costly regulation,” Trainer said, urging those attending the session to become involved in the issue.

“We’re taking a pro-business, pro-environment approach,” Trainer said. “But we all need to work together to do it right, minimizing government involvement and creating solutions with businesses and for-profit and nonprofit recycling companies.”

One way ISPA is taking a leadership role in facilitating a mattress recycling solution is “by bringing manufacturers and retailers together with mattress recycling companies,” Trainer added. “Together, stakeholders can explore efficient mattress recycling systems and find uses for recycled components.” Here’s an example: Working together with veteran retailer Barrie Brown, ISPA advised students at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., who created Spring Back Recycling, an enterprise that employs homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals to recycle used mattresses and foundations.

Trainer opened the Las Vegas session by introducing panelists Dale Carlsen, founder and chief executive officer of Sacramento, Calif.-based Sleep Train Inc., parent company of sleep shop chains Got Sleep?, Mattress Discounters, Sleep Country USA and Sleep Train; and Tchad Robinson, a partner in Clark Robinson Capital and a founder of Blue Marble Materials, a new recycling facility.

Robinson secured capital investments to open the high-volume, for-profit mattress recycling facility in Los Angeles. It’s the first in a planned nationwide network of mattress recycling facilities.

“Mattress recycling is practical and doable—it just hasn’t been profitable up until this point,” Robinson said. “But I believe there are things we can do to change that.”

Carlsen spoke about his experiences with mattress recycling, particularly in Oregon and Washington where he says effective recycling systems are in place. He also discussed his involvement with California Senate Bill 1118, a used mattress recycling bill introduced in 2012.

Carlsen said he ultimately opposed the California bill, which in its final form would have been costly, ineffective and disruptive to the mattress industry and is looking forward to working with lawmakers on an improved version. Carlsen urged the audience to be proactive in coming up with practical, cost-effective mattress recycling solutions in their own states.

“We believe in mattress recycling. We think it’s the right thing to do,” Carlsen said.

ISPA and others are working with California lawmakers, including State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), to create a workable used mattress recycling solution in that state. Correa introduced California SB 245 on Feb. 12.

“I am pleased SB 245 balances landfill pressures and environmental and industry concerns,” said Correa, who did not attend the recycling session, in a statement. “My legislation will incentivize Californians to recycle used mattresses, easing the burden on our landfills and communities, while retaining valuable employers and creating new jobs and business opportunities. I am confident this proposal will create a win-win solution for industry, environmentalists and California consumers.”

Read details of the bill at www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_0201-0250/sb_245_bill_20130212_introduced.pdf.

ISPA has helped form Californian for Mattress Recycling (www.ca4mattressrecycling.org), which Trainer described as “an ad hoc coalition to unite all stakeholders in support of efficient and practical mattress recycling in that state.

“If California enacts a bill, we know that other states will follow. So we want this bill to be as practical, as simple and as cost-efficient as we can make it. And with your support, we hope to achieve that,” Trainer told the audience at the recycling session.

More information
To learn more about the International Sleep Products Association’s efforts regarding used mattress recycling legislation and to get involved, check the “Advocacy” section of its website at www.sleepproducts.org.