With the level of fly tipped mattresses in England now said to equal the height of 19 Empire State buildings* just what can householders do to ensure they dispose of old mattresses responsibly?

According to the National Bed Federation (NBF), which represents the UK bed industry, just a few simple checks and precautions could help reduce the vast number of mattresses which go to landfill or get fly tipped each year.

The association says that while some 7.26 million mattresses are sold annually in the UK, only 1.36 million are recycled. And the Local Government Association (LGA) claims more than 33,000 mattresses were fly tipped in England in 2018 and 2019, making up 13% of the waste illegally dumped.

“Mattresses are one of the bulkiest household items to dispose of and getting rid of them responsibly is incredibly important,” says Simon Williams of the NBF. “Unfortunately, few specialist recyclers currently exist but the NBF is committed to its aim of diverting 75% of new mattresses sold from landfill by 2028.”

In the meantime, there are steps which everyone looking to dispose of an unwanted mattress can take:

• Check with your local council – each operates differently. Some offer separate mattress collections or bulky waste pick up services or collections for recycling. Where they exist, councils may have a contract with a mattress recycler. In other areas, householders may have to arrange to take unwanted mattresses to their local tip.

• If you are buying a new mattress, then seek out a retailer who offers to take away your old one – but check what they do with them. If possible, buy from a retailer who recycles their takebacks.

• Be very wary of van collectors who offer to take away bulky household waste items, such as old mattresses, for a charge. Many simply fly tip what they pick up – and some of them have been known to rent a warehouse, dump goods there, then disappear. Others have old mattresses recovered to look like new and then sell them as ‘bankrupt stock bargains’ or ‘cancelled orders’ by cold calling around residential areas and selling to unsuspecting householders.

• A private collection service – CollectYourOldBed.com – which guarantees to send old mattresses to a recycling centre – operates a two-man pick up service throughout England and Wales. It currently costs £40.99 to collect and remove a standard sized double mattress.

• You can also help to reduce the number of mattresses going to landfill through informed buying choices. More and more new mattresses are becoming available which have been designed with end-of-life in mind and recyclable filling materials. One company, for example, has brought out what it claims to be the world’s first range of 100% recyclable mattresses, made solely from thousands of tiny, pocketed springs in a glue-free mattress that can be quickly and easily disassembled at the end of life. In more traditionally constructed mattresses, fillings such as polyester are much easier to recycle than others.

*According to the Local Government Association in an article in letsrecycle.com

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