7 Things to Know About Mattress Disposal
Don’t let that old bed go to waste or clog up a landfill! Check out this guide to better, more environmentally-friendly options for mattress disposal.
Today’s savvy consumers are replacing their mattresses more frequently, following industry guidance to buy a new mattress every 7 to 10 years. But this dream of a better night’s sleep has turned into a nightmare for landfills: people dispose of more than 50,000 mattresses in the United States every single day, adding up to more than 18 million mattresses discarded per year.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each mattress takes about 28 cubic feet of landfill space—so, a year’s worth of discarded mattresses will hog more than 504 million cubic feet of landfill. The agency adds that mattresses are 400 percent less compactible than ordinary household garbage.
A bright spot appears in the grim mattress disposal picture, however. According to the Mattress Recycling Council, more than 75 percent of mattress components can be recycled. The following are key points to know about mattress disposal, plus some helpful hints on more eco-friendly options.
1. You might want to check your mattress’s warranty first.
Before hauling your mattress to the dump or contracting with a junk hauler to take it away, check the manufacturer’s warranty. Most manufacturers’ warranties cover removal and replacement of your existing mattress if something goes wrong during the warranty period, typically 5 to 10 years.
Many mattress suppliers also offer a free or low-cost mattress disposal service, or a buy-back program. Better still, use mattress disposal as a negotiating tool when shopping for a new mattress. Many retailers and manufacturers will “sweeten the deal” by offering to remove and dispose of the old mattress as an incentive for you to purchase a new mattress.
Also, check into the new “white glove delivery services” now being offered by many bed-in-a-box companies, particularly online bedding retailers. With these services, the company will remove and dispose of your existing mattress, box spring, and bed frame and set up your new bed to boot!
2. States have policies for mattress removal.
State laws and regulations covering recycling and mattress disposal vary widely, as do municipal waste management regulations. Currently, three states—California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island—have enacted specific mattress recycling laws, which are paid for by fees included with the cost of a new mattress.
Other states and local governments might have programs to help residents recycle and dispose of old mattresses; check with your local waste agency to find out what rules apply in your community. You also can check out the Bye Bye Mattress website of the Mattress Recycling Council for a state-by-state list of mattress disposal options.
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3. The best way to dispose of a mattress is to recycle it.
Many components of a mattress qualify for recycling and reuse—in fact, up to 80 percent of your old mattress can be recycled! The recyclable components include metal springs, wood frames, cotton or wool covers, and the foam padding. The Earth 911 website can help you find a recycling center near you, based on your ZIP code.
4. Donating to a local charity is a good idea if your mattress is still in good condition…but check first!
Some charity organizations accept donations of new or gently used mattresses. However, many of these policies changed during the Covid-19 pandemic due to concerns about contamination. Also, instances of bed bug infestations have caused many organizations to reduce or eliminate their acceptance of mattresses and upholstered furniture.
Currently, organizations that still accept mattresses include Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and local furniture banks. The Salvation Army and Arc Thrift Stores no longer accept them. To find a nonprofit organization near you that accepts mattresses, try checking the Donation Town website. This organization matches donations with ZIP code and arranges for free pickup.
5. You can use your social media channels to resell your old mattress.
If you have a gently used mattress in very good condition, you might be able to sell it online. Try listing your mattress for a nominal fee—or even offering it for free—on social media websites such as Freecycle, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, OfferUp, LetGo, Twitter, or Reddit.
Keep one caveat in mind: some states have regulations covering the sale of used mattresses. Check with the proper authorities to make sure you’re not breaking any laws.
6. Mattresses contain a variety of useful materials you can repurpose.
Enterprising DIYers can break down a mattress into its recyclable components themselves, and sell or reuse the materials—for instance, you can get up to 25 pounds of metal from a typical innerspring mattress. You then can sell it to a local scrap metal dealer, or use it in your own home, garden, and craft projects. Think trellises, plant holders, metal wreaths, wall sconces, or interesting picture frames from recycled mattress springs.
Foam padding can be cut down and used for pet bedding or to reupholster furniture. Natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or wool can repurpose as padding, insulation, or even disposable floor mats. Wood frames can be burned as firewood or ground up and used as garden mulch.
7. There are several types of waste disposal services that can get rid of old mattresses.
One person’s junk is another person’s treasure…and this has led to the creation of an entire industry of private waste disposal companies that will come to your home and haul away your unwanted furnishings for a nominal fee. Many of the companies contract with local recycling centers to resell the items.
A couple of popular and widespread waste disposal services are Load Up, which has offices in all 50 states, and 1-800-Got-Junk. You also might find a local company in your community that provides this service.