3 States. 10 Years. 12 Million Mattresses Recycled

2023 marks a decade since Connecticut, Rhode Island and California authorized the creation of statewide mattress recycling programs.

Mattress Recycling Council Logo

Ten years ago, three states Connecticut, Rhode Island and California — passed laws that authorized the mattress industry to create and run statewide mattress recycling programs. 

It was the culmination of a yearslong process by lawmakers, the mattress industry, regulators, recyclers and other stakeholders to shape laws that would divert mattresses and foundations from landfills and instead recycle their components into materials for use in other products.

The laws set off a cascade of changes in the industry, including the International Sleep Products Association’s creation of the nonprofit Mattress Recycling Council to operate the three programs. Since then, MRC has invested in educating consumers about the value of mattress recycling, preventing illegal mattress dumping, improving the recycling process and opening new markets for components.

When state laws were first being proposed, the mattress industry was “faced with an opportunity and a dilemma,” said Richard Diamonstein, longtime MRC board member and former chair. “What would new regulations look like? What did it mean for our industry? One thing that we did realize — similar to flammability regulations — we could be part of the process or be run over by it. In our judgment, it was more important to work with state legislators and regulators to fashion a solution that worked and was rational and consistent from state to state. As such, we were able to focus on a prototype model that has been effective in all three states.”  

Connecticut went first

Connecticut was the first to approve its law on May 28, 2013. Rhode Island followed on July 15, 2013, and California’s recycling legislation was signed into law on Sept. 27 of that year. MRC started operating the programs in Connecticut and California in 2015 and in Rhode Island in 2016. 

Since then, MRC has recycled more than 12 million mattresses and invested in finding the best ways to store, transport and dismantle used mattresses and foundations to get the most value out of their components. MRC also invests in research to find new uses for those components, especially materials like cotton and coconut fibers that are harder to recycle. 

MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress program works with retailers, municipalities and other stakeholders to educate consumers about the benefits of mattress recycling and the harm created by illegal mattress dumping. 

Big impacts

Although focused on diverting used beds from landfills and recycling their components, MRC has helped the sleep products industry focus more broadly on sustainability. MRC created the Sleep Products Sustainability Program, or SP2 for short, to assist mattress manufacturers in California that want to improve the sustainability of their facilities.

And in a 2022 life cycle analysis, MRC documented how mattress recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy and water consumption.

“It’s been fantastic to see the evolution of MRC’s programs and increased interest by the mattress community,” said Mike O’Donnell, MRC’s chief operating officer. “We have a tremendous amount of support from ISPA members and that has translated to highly functional and successful programs. Since 2018, this has evolved into discussions about sustainability and new mattress designs that contemplate end-of-life recycling.”

For more information about MRC and its programs, check MattressRecyclingCouncil.org and ByeByeMattress.com.

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