Previously exempt retailers, such as online mattress sellers, can benefit from MRC resources as they fulfill new obligations
Beginning Jan. 1, all retailers in California are required by law to offer, at no charge, to take back a customer’s used mattress and/or box spring when the sold mattress and/or box spring is delivered. Previously, those using a common carrier for delivery were exempt.
“This change was brought about by AB 187, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2019 and amends California’s Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act (SB 254),” explained Marie Clarke, vice president of industry and external affairs for the Mattress Recycling Council. “It is intended to level the playing field so that all retailers must offer take back and not just brick-and-mortar shops.”
MRC is the nonprofit created by the bedding industry to operate statewide mattress recycling programs in states that have passed stewardship laws. During the past year, the organization has conducted extensive outreach to educate retailers about updates to the law in California, where MRC recycled nearly 1.5 million mattresses last year through its Bye Bye Mattress program.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit the Mattress Recycling Council website: About California’s Retailer Take Back Program
• California retailers webinar
• Commercial Volume Program information
• Links to ByeByeMattress.com locator
• Third party transporter list
Although the new law was signed more than a year ago, many online mattress sellers and others that previously were exempt were still working to determine how to best comply with the law as the effective date approached. “It is a logistical challenge,” Clarke said. “Especially for online sellers, there are many questions about not only how to inform customers about the take-back option but then how to go about setting up a system to collect and transport the used mattresses for recycling or disposal.”
Resources for retailers
To assist retailers, MRC hosted a webinar on Nov. 4, “California Mattress Recycling: What Retailers Need to Know,” that provided information about changes to the law, retailer obligations and resources for compliance. The webinar attracted more than 200 registrants and nearly that many viewers since the recording was posted online. MRC also developed a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the take-back requirement.
“We continue to follow up with retailers individually to answer their questions about the law, of which there are many,” Clarke said. “We are also working with the state regulatory agency, CalRecycle, to provide guidance on interpreting the law and how it will be enforced.” New information will be shared with retailers on the MRC website as it becomes available.
MRC’s existing statewide mattress recycling program offers options to help address the retailer take-back requirement. Retailers that collect at least 100 used mattresses or box springs can receive a permanent trailer and transportation for recycling through MRC’s Commercial Volume Program. The program offers no-cost mattress recycling services, including collection, transportation and pickup of used units from hotels, hospitals, educational institutions, retailers and other large or volume disposers.
“We have seen a huge surge in interest in our program as a viable solution to the expanded take-back requirement,” said Joy Broussard, MRC’s programs and logistics coordinator and the point of contact for the Commercial Volume Program. “Some retailers were already enrolled but now are expanding their participation to include their online entities. Others are brand new enrollees taking advantage of our no-cost options.”
Another option for companies that offer delivery through common carriers is to coordinate with waste haulers or other parties to pick up old units from consumers within 30 days and then deliver those units to any participating Bye Bye Mattress collection site or recycler statewide. To find a nearby site, a searchable locator feature is available at ByeByeMattress.com.
MRC also has compiled a list of third-party contractors and transporters that may be able to assist retailers with meeting the new pickup obligations. “We have talked with many transporters who have questions about the law and are interested in being added to the list as a resource for companies seeking logistical support,” Broussard said. Accessible on MRC’s website, the list is provided as a service, may not be comprehensive and does not represent endorsement by MRC.
MRC’s retailer outreach initiative launched in California in December. “The goal of the initiative is to connect with every registered retailer in the state either by phone or email to provide support, resources and answer any outstanding questions about take-back obligations,” said Paris Gholston, MRC’s industry communications specialist. Gholston will be contacting all retailers via email with a survey and follow-up phone call. Updated resources also will be emailed to participants. “We look forward to this opportunity to connect with retailers and provide an added level of service,” Gholston said.
Important information about the mattress recycling laws and programs in participating states can be found at any time on MRC’s recently updated website, MattressRecyclingCouncil.org.
“If there is one thing we want people to know, it is that we are here to help,” Clarke said. If you still have questions about your obligations in the state of California under the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act, contact MRC’s customer service department at [email protected] or 855-229-1691.
Redesigned MRC Website Offers News, Resources and Best Practices
The Mattress Recycling Council recently redesigned its website, offering the best in mattress recycling information and resources for industry professionals. “Whether you are looking for the latest news, policy updates, research announcements, best practices or resources you will find it at MattressRecyclingCouncil.org,” said Mike O’Donnell, MRC’s managing director.
MRC conducted a comprehensive site audit and stakeholder survey prior to the redesign to guide strategic communications planning and improve understanding of key audiences, O’Donnell said. As a result, the updated site offers stakeholders increased value, ease of navigation and compelling messaging while delivering critical information.
Overall, the site conveys MRC’s environmental leadership and commitment to sustainability. Submenus offer easy access to state-specific program information and provide quick links to MRC areas of focus, including research and illegal dumping.
The resources section features a wide variety of materials and training tools to guide participation in MRC and its Bye Bye Mattress program. Not sure what you’re looking for? The entire site is searchable by key words or title and can be translated instantly into multiple languages.
“We are proud that our website is another example of how we are moving mattress recycling forward,” O’Donnell said.
Frequently Asked Questions: California’s Retailer Take-Back Program
Q: Are retailers required by law to pick up discarded mattresses from consumers for recycling?
A: In California, yes. A retailer that delivers a new mattress to a consumer must offer to pick up the consumer’s discarded mattress at no additional charge. Retailers are not required to recycle collected used mattresses but may voluntarily participate in the state’s recycling program at no cost by delivering, whether in-house or through a third party, used mattresses, box springs and futons (California only) to recyclers under contract with the Mattress Recycling Council. Retailers are not prohibited from charging delivery or setup fees.
In Connecticut and Rhode Island, there is no pickup requirement; however, retailers cannot charge consumers for the recycling of a discarded mattress or box spring through MRC’s program. Connecticut and Rhode Island retailers are not prohibited from charging delivery or setup fees.
Q: Does California’s pickup obligation apply to retailers delivering via common carrier?
A: Yes. Effective Jan. 1, all retailers in California are required by law to offer no-charge pickup of a customer’s used mattress and/or box spring when the sold mattress and/or box spring is delivered. Previously, retailers using a common carrier for delivery were exempt. Those retailers delivering units through common carriers have 30 days to arrange for pickup of the consumer’s used units.
Q: Are there any exceptions to the retailer pickup obligation in California?
A: Yes. Under the law, “a retailer or third-party contractor delivering a new mattress may refuse to pick up a used mattress from a consumer if the retailer or contractor determines the used mattress is contaminated and poses a risk to personnel, new products or equipment.”
Q: Does California’s retailer pickup obligation apply to both mattresses and foundations?
A: Yes. Just as the recycling fee is applicable to both, the retailer pickup obligation applies to all items defined as a “mattress” under the law in California. For information about included and excluded products from MRC’s program by state visit MRCReporting.org/Pages/InclExclProducts.aspx.
Q: Does the retailer pickup obligation exist if the consumer picks up the mattress at the retail store?
A: No. If a consumer picks up a unit from a retail store, the retailer is not required to offer to pick up a consumer’s used mattress or box spring.
Q: What is a “consumer” under the law? Do retailers that sell to health care facilities, correctional facilities, university systems and other institutional consumers have to offer to pick up used units?
A: Under the law, “consumer means an owner of a mattress, including a person, business, corporation, limited partnership, nonprofit organization or governmental entity and including the ultimate purchaser, owner or lessee of a mattress.” After Jan. 1, all retailers that deliver a new unit(s) to a California consumer, including an institutional consumer, must offer to take away a used unit(s).
Q: Is there a limit to the number of units I am required to pick up at the time of delivery?
A: Retailers generally can follow a 1:1 rule for units delivered to those picked up from the consumer. However, if a mattress is being delivered that does not require a box spring, retailers should be prepared to pick up both a used mattress and a box spring.
Q: Can a retailer charge for pickup of discarded units if I have to hire a third-party hauler to satisfy the pickup obligation?
A: Under the law, retailers cannot charge the consumer for the pickup of used units. However, retailers are not prohibited from charging for delivery services, including white glove delivery services.