ISPA session updates industry on mattress recycling news

In a Jan. 27 information session held during the Las Vegas Market, the International Sleep Products Association provided an update on mattress recycling developments and presented the recycling outlook for 2014. To date, three states—California, Connecticut and Rhode Island—have passed mattress-recycling legislation. ISPA is preparing plans for the implementation of recycling in those states and continues to work with legislators and stakeholders in other states considering similar legislation.

The association’s goal was the creation of mattress recycling legislation that establishes a sensible, cost-effective approach to mattress recycling, one that is funded through a small, flat fee per unit collected at retail from all consumers making a mattress purchase, said ISPA President Ryan Trainer.

An implementation plan for the Connecticut law, Public Act 13-42, is due to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection by July 1. The law is scheduled to go into effect in early 2015. The Rhode Island implementation plan is due to the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. by July 1 and will be implemented in early 2016. The plan to implement California law, SB 254, must be submitted for review to the California Department of Resources Recycling Recovery (CalRecycle), by July 1 for implementation in early 2016.

In addition to Trainer, speakers at the recycling session included Mike O’Donnell, program director of the newly created Mattress Recycling Council (MRC)—a nonprofit organization created to manage the mattress recycling programs in California, Connecticut and Rhode Island. O’Donnell has more than 20 years of experience developing best practices for recycling in a number of industries including the paint and lighting industries. The moderator was Shelly Sullivan, a public relations professional with more than 20 years in public sector and governmental affairs communications. Sullivan works with ISPA and managed the Californians 4 Mattress Recycling advocacy group.

ISPA’s overall goal is to have the MRC develop a basic framework of used mattress recycling criteria. Specific state differences will be addressed, but the overall goal is to keep all programs as similar as possible, O’Donnell said.

To that end, O’Donnell is working with an array of officials, retailers, recyclers, waste management companies, city and country representatives and staff members of the regulatory agencies overseeing the mattress recycling programs in each state.

MRC will manage mattress recycling on behalf of mattress manufacturers. Retailers will remit fees they collect at regular intervals via a secure online portal and may be eligible to receive financial incentives from MRC for mattresses collected.

“MRC is working hard to meet our deadline of submitting our proposed recycling plan in Connecticut by July 1,” Trainer explained. “As we prepare the proposed plan, we will work with retailers in an effort to address their concerns and questions. The mattress fee, which will be a visible line item on the sales receipt, is similar to recycling-related fees collected on a number of consumer products today, including auto batteries, motor oil and, more recently, house paint and carpeting. In each of those programs, the fee has been set at a low level in order not to discourage sales. Our goal will be to keep the mattress fee as low as possible so the program can be sustainable and a success in each state.”

Public education campaigns will be implemented when mattress recycling fees go into effect and will include digital communications, website development, in-store educational materials and more, O’Donnell said.

Trainer said there are 36 mattress recycling facilities in the United States today. He expects existing operations to ramp up production, implement new technologies and hire additional workers as state laws take effect.

In addition, the MRC will encourage qualified, new recyclers to come on board and will use a competitive bidding process to contract with recyclers in each state.

There also could be incentives for entrepreneurs and organizations to participate in the recycling process by picking up used or dumped mattresses and delivering them to a contracted recycling center. More details will be available this summer.

Trainer closed the session by thanking the audience, “Through your support and grassroots lobbying efforts, we were able to defeat costly, burdensome laws and instead enact laws that are much more practical and efficient.”

“Several other states are considering whether to introduce mattress recycling legislation in 2014,” Trainer added. We will provide further analysis as we learn more about other state’s intentions.”

Following the session, ISPA announced that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has identified mattresses as a target for potential recycling laws and that the Mississippi Legislature was considering a bill to create a mattress recycling program. The Mississippi legislation subsequently died in committee in mid-February and is not eligible for further consideration this year.

The association urges all industry members to stay abreast of the latest developments in state-by-state mattress recycling legislation by attending this month’s session, “Mattress Recycling: Here and Now,” during ISPA EXPO 2014, March 26-29, in New Orleans. Visit the ISPA EXPO Web page for details about the upcoming session.

This article was updated Feb. 12, 2014.